By Rich Cline | August 31, 2001

With yet another snappy script and a fiendishly clever story, Mamet leads us through this labyrinthine film with skill and wit. It’s nothing terribly original, but it is a lot of fun. Joe (Hackman) is a veteran criminal whose strength is always having a backup to his backup plan. And he certainly needs one this time, when he’s forced to do One Last Job by the pushy thug Bergman (DeVito). But Bergman insists his jittery nephew (Rockwell) go along for the heist, which makes Joe’s gang (Lindo and Ray), and especially his wife (Pidgeon), nervous. Everyone doublecrosses and gets doublecrossed before it’s over!
As usual, Mamet’s script is almost too smart for its own good–the dialog crackles with edgy humour and the plot is basically assembled from a series of outrageous twists and turns. And also as usual, every scene jumps alive with surprises and unexpected comedy as nothing goes as expected. Hackman is fantastic at the centre, while the low key Jay steals the film with such finely tuned timing that you begin to chuckle whenever he walks into a scene. And even if the film never goes anywhere particularly new with the material (like Mamet’s last film, the Hollywood comedy “State and Main”), it’s so well written and played that you can’t help but enjoy it, especially in the astute and funny details. And in the way that Mamet delights in using sleight of hand to trap us in his spider web of a plot.

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