By Admin | January 14, 2004

Somewhere in the world there has to be a video store with a section dedicated to films starring the brothers of more famous people. One imagines heading into that section and, for example, putting together a Frank Stallone film festival.

Somewhere next to the Frank Stallone section, you’d probably find a section dedicated to Michael Buscemi, brother of Steve. And in that section would be this film.

Of course, you’d never know Michael was in the film, because he’s never seen. He’s only a voice, and to be honest, he sounds a lot like his brother. So perhaps the whole thing was just a cost-saving measure on the part of the filmmakers.

The reason Michael is never seen is an interesting one, and it has to do with the way this film is presented. All the images from the film are video footage from a series of closed-circuit TV cameras hidden throughout an expansive home that is the scene of a recent robbery.

Detectives who’ve rewound the tapes are trying to solve the robbery, although the case already has been closed, as the thieves have been shot and the diamond they were trying to steal already has been returned to its vault.

As they search through the videotapes, fast-forwarding, rewinding, and in general labeling them badly, the unseen detectives act like a couple of guys working a late-night shift at the precinct. They crack jokes, comment on the film and order pizza.

I give this film a great deal of credit. It plays fair and doesn’t hide information. It puts the viewers in the detective’s chair and assumes they are smart enough to solve the crime.

There also are two clearly defined sets of characters – the ones on the screen and the ones who exist in voice only. Both sets are reasonably well motivated, well acted and impressively edited.

Unfortunately, the stories that the film tells aren’t ones that are terribly interesting. The footage may be well put together, perhaps, but we’re still talking about what is, in the end, a heist movie.

Now, most heist films generally have two things that make them interesting – the how and the why of the heist. Quite honestly neither were very compelling. I knew who the characters were, but I couldn’t figure out why they did what they were doing.

I suppose greed can be a powerful motivator, but in this instance it didn’t seem to fit with what little information we had about the perpetrator.

As for the how of the heist, well, I suppose it was efficient enough, and there were twists to be had, but none of them surprised me. It’s hard to fault the filmmakers, but I kept hoping for surprises. They didn’t materialize.

It’s tough to judge something like this. It isn’t a bad film, to be sure, but it’s one that requires a better story if it’s going to hold the interest of the audience. Overall, what we have here is a good idea with a merely acceptable execution.

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