8 March 2001 | pivic
A cut-up action story, nicely made by "first-timers"
The Traktor team has been around a while, creating commercial spots for the media, now moving into directing film (none forthcoming, as one of them said yesterday at a promotional screening) and music videos (Fatboy Slim being the next victim), thus being newcomers on the scene of cinema, while they really are not.
The film is as fractioned as "Magnolia", "Pulp Fiction" and "A Life Less Ordinary", but that may also be its stronghold. The film mostly circles a barber (Steve Zahn) whose wife (Lara Flynn Boyle) has just left him, when a nervous-looking gangster (Jeff Goldblum) enters the shop, asking for a haircut.
Saying more than this would be spoiling the film a bit, as the plot is not presented chronologically, and it has to do with everyone trying to get hold of three very valuable Ming-dynasty coins.
Many archetypes are displayed, e.g. the gangster, the hysterical ex wife and the stiff upper-lipped englishman (Tom Wilkinson), although some quite interesting characters are in place, e.g. a 17-year-old hit-man (Elijah Wood), a Police Inspector who has graced herself in Playboy (Salma Hayek) and a very nasty Timber Scout Leader (David Cross).
The film loses tempo from time to time, but recaptures it with the help of the characters and the back-and-forth switching in time and place which makes up for the general lack of story. The film does appeal with its simplicity, and Zahn does a great job with playing the loser, as do others of the cast. The soundtrack is varied and tense, not giving away "commercial spots" for known artists, but alternative rock and some actionesque dance tracks.
Making up for the dark humor of the film, there is a lot of slapstick and also wordplay, probably a stab at Quentin Tarantino's dialogue, but here it's more earth-bound and close to heart. You won't hear any "Royale with cheese"-drops here.
All in all, this is a decent action/romance-film, although there is not much romance. There is more action in this film than in your general Hollywood ones though, giving way to a lot of different screening locations, a very varied spectrum of characters, dialogue that feels real, an OK story and a good soundtrack. Go see it as an easy-going action flick that presumably won't change your movie-going taste, but will leave you with the desire for more "mainstream" films striving for what "Chain Of Fools" has achieved.