A.K.A. The Deadly Game. Now and then you find a film with a great cast and wonder why you've never heard of it before. Here we have Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Toby Stephens and Rufus Sewell in a London gangster thriller.
Oh no, not another one!
But wait, this is a well produced, well shot film with a pretty good (if somewhat generic) score. And this is only 81 minutes long, so even if it's bad it'll be mercifully short, right?
I'd been watching 21 minutes when I checked the time, because I thought I must be half way through by now. Groan. So what's wrong with it? Well, the script. The story is completely unintelligible. Which means you feel like you've missed something all the way through, namely, the story. See, the main problem is that we don't know any of the characters in the film, so we don't care about them. Any of them. And there's no clearly definable hero or villain, so you don't know who to root for. And I like grey characters who aren't really good or bad, but you need a general focus or main character in a film, and this film just doesn't have one.
So you keep watching these characters you don't care about in a story you can't really figure out, especially as they keep referring to things you don't see but that appear to be germane to the plot, and pretty soon you are just willing it to all end. Drop a plane on them! Nuke the whole city! Just let it end!
And then it does, and you are left completely nonplussed, empty, devoid of any reaction other than relief that it's over. That's not the way thrillers are supposed to make you feel. You're supposed to be thrilled! You're supposed to have gone through some kind of cathartic emotional journey, with added visceral excitement. You're not supposed to be relieved the mental cruelty of a badly laid out jigsaw puzzle is finally in your cultural out-box. Phew!
I need to watch a great thriller. I might have to go back to my DVD collection.