Thu October 10, 2002
The story is slow, the dialogue trite, and nothing new has been added to the themes of father/son relationships and Mafia honor.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Derivative without wit" is what I would call "Knockaround Guys." Blood, yes. Redemption--yes. Caring about anyone in this movie-No.
Four mobster sons descend on a small Montana town to locate a bag of cash meant for one of their fathers. Problem is, corrupt sheriff (Tom Noonan of "Manhunter's" Tooth-Fairy fame) plans to keep the $500K for himself and his deputy.
Barry Pepper leads the cast as the son most responsible for the lost bag and the one most in need of gaining his father's respect (Dennis Hopper). Pepper is an odd-looking chap, a pleasant caricature of Elvis, who should have attended Actor's Studio to find out how Pacino does the Italian accent (a good script often helps).
Vin Diesel does show he's going to be big at box office like his unworldly muscles. With those muscles, scowl, and mumbles, he does have a quiet strength promising stardom (as he will prove in "XXX"). Not to be outdone, John Malkovich plays the savvy second-in-command with an accent not yet found on linguists' charts. He should stick to his regular mumbling--his accent is laughable. He ends up absurd rather than tough
Lawrence bender also produced "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs," iconic films of the shock noir genre. Both have lively stories and interesting characters (think of John Travolta and Harvey Keitel, for example). The "Knockaround Guys" story arcs through the boy/man trying to prove to dad he's now a man, the assumption of power, the loss of power and money, and a resolution guaranteed to serve up surprises and bodies, if not the "respect" it all promised to the young guns.
The story is slow, the dialogue trite, and nothing new has been added to the themes of father/son relationships and Mafia honor. Only Pepper as the idealistic son and Diesel as the weary tough save this film from itself.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time" and vice chairs the board of The Film Council of Greater Columbus.