26 January 2015 | Othy59
Very Well Made and Criminally Overlooked
Christopher Walken stars in this great, if a little uneven, crime film by controversial director Abel Ferrara (Driller Killer, Bad Lieutenant).
It tells the story of Frank White, a crime lord who, after being released from prison, makes a violent campaign to reclaim his empire in order to use his ill-gotten gain for charitable means in this modern twist on the Robin Hood mythos. At the same time a core group of New York cops are all over him and his gang, determined to go to war, whatever the cost, to bring him down which leads to a violent climax.
In a break from the usual cops and robber movie the line between crook and cop are a little blurry here. Sure Walken's character is a crook who kills people and then goes to parties laden with cocaine and sex, but he kills other scum bags and tries to use his new found freedom to do good things for charity. He's a character who is using his empire as a means to do what he feels is the right thing and raise a poor community up from its poor roots.
The cops on the other hand believe that a crook, will forever be a crook. As David Caruso's (CSI: Miami joke here) character aptly puts, that the more people he kills the more it reflects badly on the cops whilst no matter what they do to stop Frank, he always gets away scot-free. I can definitely see the positives and negatives from both sides as they can be both as bad and both as justifiable in their actions. Really well thought out stuff when you think about it, and this was a film made 12 years before the Wire (which I've still got to finish watching).
Though while I do say it's uneven I still hold to that. Some bits feel a little rushed in pacing and even the lawyer girlfriend to Frank White seems to vanish into thin air during the third act of the film.
But despite being a low budget film, it is still a pretty good looking film with an impressive cast (including Lawrence Fishburn, Wesley Snipes and David Caruso) who play their parts really well. I did have a few niggling problems, mostly with the sound though that could attribute to the copy of the film I had. But the climax of this film is where it's really at as everything that has been building up to this comes to an exciting head.
It's such a shame that this film has been so over looked, I mean I only really found out about it through Christopher Walken's film list. It deserves a lot more credit.