13 July 2005 | philip_vanderveken
I'm not surprised that almost no-one knows it, but it's a shame
Once in a while you come along a movie that, even though it is already several years old, you have never heard of before. "Phoenix" is such a movie. The only reason why I gave it a try and taped it is because there is a famous actor in it who I usually like to see playing (Ray Liotta) and because I hoped that the story might be something nice (most of the time I like crime movies). And because I really didn't know what to expect from it, it's only good that I didn't see that cover photo first. That ugly thing doesn't really give a good impression of what this movie is like. When watching that picture, my first impression is that this will be a typical action flick, Stalone or Jean-Claude Vandamme style, while in reality that certainly isn't the case.
"Phoenix" tells the story of Harry Collins, a cop whose life isn't exactly going all too well. He's a hopeless gambler who only loses a lot of money and never wins anything. But that's not how he sees it. He considers gambling not as something to make money with, he sees it as as an honorable tradition which he has inherited from his father. He gambles on anything he can possibly think of and he really sees a hidden tip in everything: the name of a girl, a conversation with some people who he considers to be lucky... Pretty soon he has a lot of debts with a loan shark named 'Chicago', which he can't possibly pay. When his colleagues suggest that they could arrest or even kill the man, he is shocked. There is no honor in doing such a thing, but from one thing comes another and soon Collins and his colleagues find themselves in a downward spiral of corruption, deceit, murder...
A movie with Ray Liotta in it is always worth watching, no doubt about that. Even a movie that isn't that good can be saved by his appearance. But this movie didn't need to be saved at all. This was actually a very nice film with some well-developed characters and a nice storyline. I might even say that this entire movie was a big surprise to me, as it kept my attention from the first moment until the last. And not only Ray Liotta is worth mentioning. Anthony LaPaglia, Daniel Baldwin, Jeremy Piven,... all did a very nice job in this movie. Still, in the end I'm not surprised why so little people know this movie. OK, it has a cast with some famous people in it like Anjelica Huston, Jeremy Piven and Ray Liotta, but this is also the work of the same director who gave us movies like "Judge Dredd" and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer". I'm really wondering what made that man decide to do this project in the first place and where he ever found so much excellent inspiration. Anyway, there is one thing that I'm absolutely sure of: I will definitely recommend it to everybody who wants to hear it. I give this movie at least a 7.5/10.