Studio:Inception Films Year: 2008 Cast: Mick Rossi, Robert Miano, Aaron Gallagher, Jorge A. Jimenez, Peter Dobson, Val Kilmer, Sile Bermingham, Cheryl Meyer, Brian Foyster, Eric Shani, Manny Barbosa, Sandy Duarte
Director: Phillip Guzman Release Date: August 24, 2010 Rating: R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity Run Time: 01h:45m:49s Genre(s): crime
"It comes in dirty and goes out clean. That's my secret." - Maz (Val Kilmer)
If you're a heist genre fan you may find bits and pieces of this one worthwhile, but most likely you will find yourself slackjawed by the dangling, unresolved storylines that are continually introduced here.
Movie Grade: C+
DVD Grade: C+
Let me just say that I admire the independent filmmaker, the director who has to work with nothing to try and make something. For me it is tough to knock a project when apparent budgetary restrictions get in the way of telling the story, because I know a couple of indie directors and money is always tight during productions. But sometimes those gaps do get in the way, and at times it can hamper the enjoyment of a film. In the 2008 heist flick 2:22, writer/director Phillip Guzman suffers that familiar curse of the independent filmmaker, but the truth is he's just as much to blame for the missteps of the final product thanks to an oddly wandering script.
The setup is straightforward, with so-called "best damn crew boss" Gully (Mick Rossi, who also wrote, produced and even sang on one of soundtrack songs) assembling his usual team—aging thief Willy (Robert Miano), hot-tempered Finn (Aaron Gallagher), young upstart Gael (Jorge A Jimenez)—for another lucrative heist.
The plan is to rob the safety deposit boxes of a swanky hotel on New Year's Eve, with the film's title referring to the time of the crime. This is one of the first big stumbling blocks in the story Guzman is telling, because for such a supposedly posh hotel it is manned by seemingly one person on what should be one of the busiest nights of the year. I chalked up the lack of extras to perhaps a bad case of budget tightness, and I did my best to gloss over that weakness as things progressed.
But that was not so easy here, because Guzman introduces so many secondary subplots and characters that go nowhere. There's Gully's ex, a hotel guest contemplating suicide, a television star with a secret, a lonely woman in a bar, a detective who looks like Gabriel Byrne and a roomful of sweaty men in tightie whities. All elements that seem like they will lead somewhere relevant, but then just fall of the face of the movie. And yes, Val Kilmer is listed prominently on the cover, but he's only in the film for less than ten minutes as some sort of quirky jewelry expert. He ratchets up the hammy meter to 11, too.
Naturally the big crime is fraught with problems (many of which are highly illogical) and then the film's final act kicks it up a bit while dealing with what happens afterwards, This is really the best segment of the film, and for a heist film that's unfortunate that the heist isn't the centerpiece.
The performances are all pretty solid (Miano and Jimenez especially), and there are a couple of moments when the film feels very comfortable in its own peculiarly dirty underworld. Sift through the inconsistencies and Guzman shows a talent for shot framing and composition, and deep down there's a part of me that would like to see him take on a project that didn't have so many open holes in it.
It's tough to say if the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on my screener copy represents the final street version. Let's just say I hope not. While I will grant director Phillip Guzman the right to wash out the palette to give everything drab overtones for dramatic, gritty effect if he wants, and if that's the case here I think he may have tilted too far in the wrong direction. Colors are flat, edges are soft and hazy, and there is a real lack of depth and texture. Ditto for the lifeless 2.0 stereo track, which I'll assume will get a heftier presentation come release day. Or at least I hope so.
The screener I received from Inception only included the film's trailer, though the artwork appears to promise a making-of and a photo gallery for the street version of the BD release.