Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't spend your cash on 'Hard Cash'

The vast majority of movies I watch, I come to cold. If I know anything about them, it comes from reading the blurb on the back of the DVD case, or, rarely, a review on another website or a preview on the DVD itself, which I sometimes watch to decide if I'm actually in the mood for the film in question.

Such was the case with "Hard Cash". I'm a fan of Christian Slater, and I am of course familiar with Val Kilmer and Daryl Hannah, but I knew nothing about the film itself. So, after it sat about a month in my review stack, I stuck it in the DVD player to, at the very least, watch any preview of it that might be included.

And I decided that I had to watch the movie right then, because any flick that's got a midget assassin hiding in a toilet bowl can't be all bad (particularly when it's the midget who played Mini-Me).

But, unfortunately, the midget assassin in the toilet was merely indicative of the turd that this movie turned out to be... and I had been suckered by a well-done promo.

Hard Cash (aka "Run for the Money") (2002)
Starring: Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Sara Downing and Daryl Hannah
Director: Peter Antonijevic
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Thomas (Slater), a clever thief working with a gang of morons who manage to pull off a $1.9 million heist. All Thomas wants is to split the money with his partners and flee to lead a better life with his young daughter and girlfriend (Downing). Unfortunately, Thomas and his gang stole marked money that a crooked, mildly insane FBI agent (Kilmer) had already stolen and was having laundered. Now, Thomas has to pull off an impossible job at the behest of the crooked Fed while trying to keep his own criminal associates from killing him and each other.

I love a good heist movie, I love good action films, I love good crime dramas, and I love good comedies. "Hard Cash", a film with a case of severe attention deficit disorder, tries to be all of the above, but fails to be any of the above. It reminded me of a pale imitation of a Donald Westlake novel, except the jokes weren't all that funny and the stakes didn't seem to higher... only more unbelievable and stupid. Worse, the stunts and chases aren't particularly good (and obviously cheaply made... the filmmakers couldn't even bother to make most of the cars they demolished look like anything but the junkers they were) and the heists weren't very suspenseful. In fact, "Hard Cash" does a great job at remaining 100% Tension Free. (In fact, the "teaser heist" at the very beginning of the movie is more interesting than anything that follows.)

The only halfway decent thing about this film is Christian Slater and the character he plays--even Val Kilmer can quite manage to rise above the awful script and character he has to work with. Slater's character is the only one with even the slightest bit of depth in the film, and he is the only one who seems to be doing any acting. (Okay, so he's the same character he is in most movies he's done--he's Christian Slater!--but at least there's SOME range of emotion in his performance. No one else has that.

Save your hard-earned cash for something better than "Hard Cash".

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