Monday, 27 July 2015
Me: "Hey, want to watch Cash?"
My sister: "What is it?"
Me: "A crime thriller starring Chris Hemsworth and Sean Bean."
My sister: "Sure, sounds good."
Me (knowing that the DVD cost seven bucks): "I wouldn't count on it."
Needless to say, my sister was doomed to disappointment by this low budget offering, which was made the year before Hemsworth's breakthrough gig as Thor. Personally, while I doubt the man in question loudly touts this flick in his resume, I don't think he has anything to be ashamed of here. Nor does anyone else in the cast. The flaws in the film - and there are several - are all to do with the script.
Let's start with the good: this is a technically proficient film. The main cast are all solid, the sound is clear and audible throughout (not true of every film I've watched for this blog, sad to say), and - with the exception of a couple of composite shots - the visuals are a step above average for an indie film. Well-executed lighting, lots of locations/sets, and a good feel for how to use the camera.
So what are the problems with the script? Well before that, a precis:
When struggling working class couple Sam and Leslie stumble across a briefcase full of money, they think it must be their lucky day. Unfortunately for them, however, while the criminal who originally stole it is behind bars, he has a twin brother (named Pyke) on the outside. And given that the suitcase contains over $600,000 there's a lot of reasons for the brother to track it down.
This Pyke successfully does, leading to a confrontation between the young couple and the hardened criminal. Intimidated by this menacing individual, Sam and Leslie give back all the cash they have left - over $500,000 - but they've already spent close to eighty grand.
Some men might decide that half a million is enough, but not Pyke. He insists that Sam and Leslie return every last cent of the cash, by whatever means necessary, and he intends to put the screws to them until they do so. After all, he's a hard man; they're just a soft suburban couple; and he's apparently never heard any proverbs about cornered rats.
The basic plot of the film isn't a problem at all. I don't think the ending quite comes off - though with a few changes to dialogue it could be made much more effective - but other than that it's a solid framework. Unfortunately there are three problematic details. The first is Pyke himself: he's a a mish-mash of weird character tics (chain smoker, OCD, yoga practitioner) that are never made a cohesive whole. The second is structural: the film throws at least half a dozen snippets of flashback into the first ten minutes. I guess this is supposed to be edgy and modern, but it doesn't work. The last is the minor characters: the film goes to the "comedic ethnic character" well multiple times, and it comes up entirely empty on comedy (but full of cringe) every time it does so. Each incidence is a jarring and juvenile distraction from the main plot of the film.
Overall, I think the flaws overwhelm the positives in this little number, which is something of a shame as the basic idea - while not exactly original - has potential.