There are bad movies that are hard to watch, and then there are movies that when they were started, the people putting them together obviously said, "Hell, it ain't Shakespeare. We might as well enjoy ourselves."
Give 'Em Hell, Malone falls strictly in the latter category. It knows it's not going to set any records or get any awards, but I'll be damned if this isn't a fun and funny movie.
Thomas Jane, a Baltimore-born actor (CHARM CITY, REPRESENT!), plays the titular Malone, channeling his best Humphry Bogart. In the first 10 minutes of the film, while narrating about ways to die, Malone wades through a bloodbath in which 15 people die, most of whom he shoots with a big nasty Mateba revolver. While the overall plot is quite convoluted, it's well aware of how silly it is. There a case, and being a pure MacGuffin, supposedly contains the meaning of love. Said case falls into the possession of Malone, drawing the attention of a local mob boss looking to move into legitamte business...by sending out his top enforcers to brutalize, vandalize, and oh yes-terrorize the case into his sweaty hands. Ving Rames, who chews the scenery like its made of salt-water taffy, plays the intimidating Boulder, one of the fore-mentioned enforcers.
Other supporting characters have equally memorable names like Eddie The Cheese (Tom Olson) and Matchstick (Doug Hutchison). The script, penned by writer-director Russel Mulcahy (making what may very well be his best film since Highlander), has fantastic lines in it, like "So unless you some some answers in that overwrought hairdo, I suggest you get the hell out of my life." It's here where Jane and Rhames both shine, delivering super-gritty, ultra-cool nonsense as easy as they'd order a pepperoni pizza.
Frank Miller, take note: before you make another cinematic war crime, this movie is how it should be done.
Everything film-noir convention is here: The Femme Fatale (Elsa Pataky), The Asian Assassin (Chris Yen), The wannabe-Sinatra Lounge Singer (French Stuart), and the Neglected Mom, who Malone only goes to see at her nursing home when he needs stitches or bullets removed (Eileen Ryan ).
What's really great about this movie, aside from its death grip on film noir cliches and the stellar writing, is that these characters just sort of accept that they're the only people still living in the late 1940's, and just roll with it. They only begrudgingly acknowledge the modern age when they have to use cell phones. It's kinda' like watching the world'ss coolest LARP.
While the ending throws a curveball that I won't spoil, it surprisingly works, and more importantly-had heart, which is often lacking in a lot of movies of this sort. So if you're looking for an action-pact merging of Sam Spade and Sam Pekinpah-style violence, you could do much worse than Give 'Em Hell Malone. A great cavalcade could be had if you paired with another tongue-in-cheek spin on film noir, like the classic Johnny Dangerously .