Dark Horizon's Knockaround Guys Review 9/17
Diesel's Knockaround Guys! 9/13
KNOCKAROUND GUYS from Boxoffice Online Reviews 9/12
Knockaround Guys review from filmcritic.com 9/10
Fan Review #1
Just caught KG's opening at the Boston Film Festival earlier tonight with my bestest pal, an award-winning screenwriter (I'll call her Trixie, since that's her alias when we go out and don't want to give our real names). Writer/directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien held a Q&A after the screening.
GENERAL: Two thumbs up from Pixie and Trixie! Better than I expected, to be honest, some good performances, beautifully shot (director of photography was present, can't remember his name), and alternately funny, touching and scary.
VIOLENCE: Gunplay, a few fistfights (including one very funny scene with Vin and a local yokel), and one particularly disturbing scene in the beginning (get ready to watch through your fingers - this one alone earns it the "R" rating).
STORY: Matty (Barry Pepper), the son of a Brooklyn underboss, has always failed to measure up to his dad's standard of manhood, yet nobody in the non-mob world seems to want to give him a chance to prove himself. He hangs with some other young mob-offspring, including Taylor Reese (Vin), who works as a collector/enforcer type for Matty's dad (played with a surprising understatement by Dennis Hopper). When Matty gets the chance to impress his dad and uncle (John Malkovich) by retrieving some money from the west coast, he entrusts the job to recovering cokehead Johnny Marbles (Seth Green), who promptly loses the cash. The story finds the boys in a small Montana town, trying to rescue the money from a crooked sheriff.
FUN FACTS: When asked directly by an audience member (not me), the directors said principal photography took place just before Vin did TFATF with four days of reshoots after. And there are two reasons New Line Cinema held the release of KG. First, the exec and marketing director who greenlighted the picture both got canned. Second, they were considering releasing the picture earlier this year, but by then, they knew the buzz on xXx was good enough that they decided to wait until after xXx's release. Now the studio's capitalizing on Vin's box-office power to pull KG out of the art-house circuit and into a general release! And Vin's character is based on someone the directors knew well - in fact, they went out on his "routes" collecting at Brooklyn bodegas with him when researching the screenplay. Both directors said Hopper and Malkovich were wonderful to the young actors, all of whom, said Brian and David, they felt extremely lucky to have gotten for their story.
NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF: I have to come clean: I was surprised at a certain delicacy in Vin's performance in this one. To be fair, only Vin and Barry Pepper's characters got significant character development (their characters are best friends and have several scenes together). Taylor seemed to have a sublte sadness just below the surface, as though he accepted his mob-enforcer-but-never-boss status with some heavy resignation. He's the center of one of the funniest scenes in the movie (you won't forget the significance of the number "500" anytime soon). Still, there's something sad about him, a weariness that's different from Barry Pepper's yearning to prove himself. He speaks consistently from the lower register of his voice (thank God for subwoofers), with a pronounced gravel (unlike Riddick, for example, who was a bit smoother for a different, scary effect). And his physical presence wasn't as cocky as Xander's or Dom's, nor as still and predatory as Riddick's. Taylor knows his place in the world and goes about his rather tough business with an earned confidence, but definitely not pride.
Not every main character in this one makes it alive to the end. And this Pixie don't narc. You're gonna have to wait till general release before I'll squeal!!
END OF SPOILISH THINGS
- Pixie Khan, who knows that Vin's hotter than MA gubernatorial candidate Warren Tolman
Fan Review #2
Thank God for Lord of the Rings. Seriously. Word is, if New Line hadn't
been saved by LOTR, Knockaround Guys probably would never have seen the
light of day. And that would have been a shame.
As I'm sure you all know, KAG was filmed in 2000 and has been sitting
on a shelf at New Line ever since. The movie was made as a vehicle for
Barry Pepper. Remember him? I didn't think so. The supporting cast
includes John Malkovich, Dennis Hopper, Seth Green, Andrew Davoli, and
a name that might be familiar to you: Vin Diesel.
The story is a coming of age/fish out of water/mob story. Nothing
particularly original - The Godfather said all there is to say about
life in The Family, and there isn't much to add to any coming of age
But the execution is beautiful. The style of the movie is simple -
nothing technically difficult or complicated. No outstanding special
effects. Just a small story about a young man trying to earn his
father's respect. It just so happens that this young man (Pepper) is
the son of a mob boss (Hopper). He passes on what seems to be a simple
assignment to a friend who's looking for one last chance to make it,
and has to clean up when the friend makes the horrible mistake of
losing the money that belongs to the mob boss.
They end up in a small town in Montana, and the culture shock for four
New York City boys is quite funny. I wish they could have spent more
time on that, but it would have detracted from the point of the movie.
And I must admit that I am tired of crooked cops and evil ex-military,
especially when a couple of lines referring to someone as ex-military
suffices as the characterization of that person. It's a sloppy
technique that does no filmmaker any favors.
The cast, however, does well with what they're given. Vin's performance
in particular is worthy of note - some of us have known for a while
that the man can act, but people who have only seen XXX or The Fast and
the Furious are in for a pleasant surprise. In this movie, he gets to
prove that he knows how to be a supporting player, which is not easy
for someone used to dominating the screen. Watch for subtleties in
Taylor Reese: the expression on his face as he is helpless to prevent
the beating of his friend, and the way he makes his eyes go dead just
before laying a beating on the town tough.
Seth Green is lovely as the screw-up Marbles. His character was written
without an arc, but Green manages to insert a small one. I enjoyed
seeing him in a dramatic role for a change.
This is a good movie. Not a great movie, but solid. Go see it!!