Another great Neo Noir flick that's either written off most lists, or just never made the radar screens of most noiristas and aficio-noirdos. This one I'd heard negative comments about, particularly how it resembles a first person shooter game.
What Give em Hell Malone does is grab you, whether you are into these games or not, with this opening sequence that indeed inserts you a video game-ish scenario, and what it effectively does, is quicken the tempo of Noir. It gets you up to the speed of Mark Hosack's hard boiled dialog, homaging both Chandler, Hammett, and the better parts of Mickey Spillane. It's tongue in cheek picaresque, and a lot of fun.
This film is a great boiling stew of the Classic Hard Boiled Detective, Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, and the Coen Brothers with some homage to true crime. It's so stylish and knowing that it gives a fresh look particularly to the hard boiled detective and noir.
I'ts almost like what a Fistfull Of Dollars does to the Western, this has the blueprint on how to tweak the old school Hard Boiled Detective.
|Noirsville aka Spokane, Washington|
Similar to Miller's Sin City, Give 'em Hell Malone takes place in an unspecified time in what star Thomas Jane calls a Noiriverse, Noirsville by another name. It manages to do this with the help of Inland Empire railroad hub, Spokane, Washington, a city that still has a lot of 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s era buildings, grit, and atmosphere. The anti-hero Malone (Jane) strides through bodies like the Man With No Name through the Rojo and Baxter's, making Mike Hammer-esque wisecracks in voice over, nice! It can also boast of a decent convoluted story, many memorable characters, and an ominous, black, exhaust rumbling, souped up, 51 Merc that, compared to 2000s era vehicles looks like a small tank.
And this is another big WTF to critics in 2009, this film delivers, especially if you are tuned to noir. If you have been wading through the lists of some of reviewers, and those "hop on the band wagon" shills of basically, what I call, softcore-ish compilations of what they think are Neo Noirs, and are looking for a Noir Fix, this film is mainlining it.
|Malone (Thomas Jane)|
|Evelyn (Elsa Pataky)|
Dark Country (2009)) as gruff ex P.I. Malone, Ving Rhames (Miami Vice TV series (1984–1990), Pulp Fiction (1994), Kiss of Death (1995) Dark Blue (2002)) as hired gun Boulder, Elsa Pataky as Femme Fatale Evelyn, French Stewart (3rd Rock from the Sun TV Series (1996–2001), Leaving Las Vegas (1995)) as Frankie the Crooner, Leland Orser (Se7en (1995), Baby Face Nelson (1996), Taken (2008)) as Murphy, Chris Yen (Adventures of Johnny Tao (2007)) as Mauler, Gregory Harrison (Razorback (1984)) as mob king Whitmore, Eileen Ryan (The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959–1964), The Detectives TV Series (1959–1962), Magnolia (1999)) as Mother Gloria and David Andriole (Barb Wire (1996), Freeway (1996)) as Pencil Stache.
|Boulder (Ving Rhames )|
|Frankie The Crooner (French Stewart)|
|Matchstick ( Gregory Harrison)|
|Mauler (Chris Yen)|
He heads to his mother Gloria's nursing home for assistance. Gloria is a hard drinking ex nurse. She digs out Malone's bullet. While there he breaks open the briefcase and finds it stuffed with newspapers and a small blue elephant that Malone dubbs "the meaning of love." This cryptic appellation stirs up the interest of a number of underworld figures who are trying to figure out what it is in Noirsville that is worth so much in dead men.
|"the meaning of love"|
|Whitmore (Gregory Harrison)|
|Murphy (Leland Orser)|
|Mother Gloria (Eileen Ryan)|
|Visas for blowjobs|
|Pencil Stash (David Andriole)|
|Going Capone on his ass|
Thomas Jane is highly entertaining as mercenary Malone. His quick paced gravelly voice overs punctuate the action, he grumbles wisecracks like gunshots. Jane and equally hard boiled costar Pataky spit sexual banter like two alley cats. It's reminiscent of Bogart and Bacall's banter in The Big Sleep but more believable.
All the bad guys in the film are fearful of Malone, there are varying stories of the brutal demise of Malone's family (Shown in Black & White flashbacks) and how the experience warped Malone into a cold blooded killing machine.
Pataky is the pieces sharp tongued femme fatale. At times Pataky's foreign inflections of English breaks through, but after all she's supposed to be a European prostitute. In this respect she reminds me of classic femme fatales Faith Domergue, Viveca Lindfors, and Peggy Cummins.
Ving Rhames is Malone's ex partner, Rhames is the heavy, he is imposing. Gregory Harrison the Mob King "goes Capone" on Malone's ass. Chris Yen plays a Crazy 88 type of sadistic assassin Mauler. Doug Hutchison, reminiscent a bit of a combination of Klaus Kinski and Jack Nance, is a bit over the top as wacko pyromaniac Matchstick.
A big shout out to French Stewart as bad lounge act Frankie the Crooner, part of his act is singing Lou Reed's "Good Night Ladies" at dive bars and old folks homes. His other gig is supplying visas for money or sex, to illegal alien prostitutes for Harrison. Stewart kind of reminds me of classic Film Noir bit player Edmond Ryan. Other memorable performances are David Andriole as Pencil Stash, and Eileen Ryan as Ma Gloria.
This film is a real hoot. It's oozing updated hard boiled style, with a tablespoon of Kill Bill from Tarantino, a pinch of Mulholland Drive from Lynch, a bite of Point Blank from Boorman, a cup of Blood Simple from the Coen Brothers, a ladle of Fistfull Of Dollars from Leone, a wallop of The Lady From Shanghai from Welles, the graphic scribble of Sin City from Miller, Rodriguez, and even some of Dick Tracy from Chester Gould, the film borrows from all. Screencaps from the January 26, 2010 DVD.