Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Give 'Em Hell, Malone: Give 'Em A Plot, Instead

thomas jane,give 'em hell malone,russell mulcahy

The title of this post probably sounds a little harsher than it really needs to. However, I couldn't think of anything more clever. Give 'Em Hell, Malone is a stylistic and action-packed neo-noir, full of hard-boiled, square-jawed, gravel-voiced pile of weirdness. It lacks the snappy, intelligent dialogue often characterized by traditional noire or neo-noir. It's basically comic book noir, lots of hard-punching, hard-shootin', gritty-ass action.

Directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, The Shadow, Resident Evil: Extinction) and starring Thomas Jane (Hung, The Mist, Dreamcatcher) as the titular Malone and Ving Rhames (Mars Attacks!, Mission: Impossible, Surrogates) as a hired gun set out to butt heads, this film is totally ridiculous. It's written by Kurt Wimmer though, and he wrote Equilibrium, Ultraviolet, The Recruit, and the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, so...

It opens with a completely arbitrary gunfight, where Malone is only distinctive in the fact that he's Thomas Jane. The audience isn't even completely sure that he's a "good guy," because he shoots and kills a building full of henchmen. It gets even more nonsensical from there!

Basically, Malone steals a briefcase, which contains "The Meaning of Love," a small toy. He's contracted to do it, and when he meets his client, a beautiful woman, he's instantly suspicious. Why wouldn't he be? It's not set in the '40s or anything; it's completely contemporaneous. Yet he wears a fedora, classic old-school suit. He's misogynistic, quick to shoot, quick to punch, and a raging alcoholic. While investigating who set him up to steal the case, he's being pursued by multiple assassins, hired by a crime boss trying to go legit. Sort of. I guess. Also, his mom's a drunk and patches his gunshot wounds, and his cat won't take his medicine. These are real sub-plots.

Overall, it's not terrible. Thomas Jane is really, really good at the ol' lantern-jawed ass-kicker. Ving Rhames is pretty brilliant as a hitman named Boulder whose wife is dying, and wants to go legit as well. There aren't that many interesting characters, because they're either liars, drunks, thugs, or a combination therein. He also drives an extremely awesome car, a 1952 Chop Top Buick Straight 8, primer black with red rims and white wall tires. It's a huge, imposing, ridiculous car. Much like the film itself.

Give 'Em Hell, Malone is a huge, lumbering, staggering, face-punching pistol-shooting dame-swatting rampage through noir wearing an action costume. Thomas Jane is anachronistic, flat, and predictable, but he's entertaining. Uh, I mean, his character is. It's fairly entertaining, somewhat thin in plot, and it's fairly stylishly directed. One thing I hate about movies these days is the continuous use of computer generated blood; I miss the old days of squibs and blood-packs. It's too fake, it's too strange. Oh well, I guess.

I give Give 'Em Hell, Malone two-and-a-half dudes being lit on fire, only to come back and get lit on fire again later out of five, or two-and-a-half "meanings of love" that turn out to be toys in the end for some reason out of five.

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