Give ‘Em Hell, Malone

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 .

Surrogates

In the future, everyone has a sexy robot version of themselves that they pilot around to avoid being ugly. A side effect of this is no one can actually die, until Jack Noseworthy shows up with a what appears to be an industrial flashlight that fries users through their robots.

Welcome to the world Surrogates.

The whole living through robots thing sucks all the life out of the whole movie. If the characters are never in danger, where's the excitement? Nowhere, dammit.  Surrogates commits the cardinal sin of making a boring action movie, which is a shame because director Jonathan Mostow directed the very exciting U-571 and the somewhat exciting Terminator 3, so his next movie is sure to be a grand achievement in the realm of boring.

The main failure of this movie is not knowing what the audience wants and expects. In Surrogates, everyone has been worked over with that CGI smoothing technique they used in X-men 3 to make Xavier and Magneto young again. It works fine for a minute or so, but more than half a movie with it, and you realize just how plastic the technique makes people look.  Not only do we not want dull action movies, we do want Bruce Willis to be bald and grizzled. He's made his career out of being a wise cracking tough guy, and seeing him smoothed out with bright pink lips and a bad blond hair piece is just disturbing. You know that one guy holding onto to youth too hard? Computer generated hussy Willis looks like that, but creepier.

You can be anything with these surrogates? Why doesn't the world look more like Second Life? Oh, because no one would want to see that movie. . .

The movie I did want to see, tucked away inside Surrogates, was about the rebel faction that refuses to use surrogates and are second-class citizens as a result.  How do they undermine the rest of the world if they are completely out numbered by android puppets that are ten times as durable as they are? (With shotguns, to start)

All of those questions go unanswered, and I grew stiff with boredom as I realized that anything bad that happened to most of the main characters was that they would get kicked off an online video game. You use a surrogate, you probably run the risk of a host of other issues as well, like diabetes, weird sexual fetishes and demonstrating a super exaggerated version of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory , but none of that makes me want to pay attention to you.

After meandering around a murder mystery in a way that telegraphed the conclusion in the first ten minutes, Bruce Willis...

[slider title="spoiler"] saves everyone from being killed but destroys all the surrogates in a comic scene where they all just fall over with hysterical clangs and clinks around the extremely clean version of the city of Boston. Now everyone can live their lives the way god intended, the end.[/slider]

This movie is sticks to classic paranoia tropes of technology ruining humanity and, as such, would go great with Johnny Mnemonic, or Robocop 2 at any Cavalcade. Just keep the booze on hand

Just in case you were wondering, some of us thought U-571 and T3 were terrible too-The Management