Runtime: 94 Mins
What To Expect: A surprisingly well directed movie built on horrible screenwriting foundations
If you watch enough independent movies and VOD movies, with the action/thriller genre at least, you can’t help but become cynical. I went into ‘American Heist’ firmly with a cynical mind, wondering where on the scoreboard it would rank between 0/10 and 4/10. The fact that Hayden Christensen was in it suggested something of questionable calibre, followed by Adrien Brody, who has fallen down a peg or two in terms of exposure. A (practically) no-name Russian director also did not assuage fears. American Heist has had an initial negative response with some calling it horrid. I wouldn’t go that far, I’d call it pretty average.
American Heist is obviously a movie involving individuals planning to relieve someone of their wealth using unscrupulous methods, in America. From the get go the clichés come thick and fast. It’s the old ‘loser criminal brother drags down hot-shot sibling by involving him in some shady venture’ yarn. Adrien Brody is the older convict brother, a 40-something wigger (that alone damn near torpedoes the movie) just released from the can after a lengthy stretch, only to immediately give younger brother Hayden Christensen the order to help him rob a bank. Brody’s gangster friends demand it, so both have no option.
I’ll tell you one thing, this movie had a budget of $10 million but you could be fooled into thinking it was three or more times that. They should’ve taken a leaf out of Avi Lerner’s book and lied about their budget, in order to create a placebo hype effect. Shot on location in New Orleans, they used the city’s best and most modern features – this is how The Expendables should’ve been. Better still, the finale of the movie – a prolonged action sequence, is surprisingly well filmed and directed. I will always give a director who makes the experience lucid and visually coherent for the audience due praise. Not a classic, but well edited with no shaking cameras. Loud and violent.
It’s a pity then that the screenplay is really bad. I normally don’t really bitch about plot holes, not in B-movies like this, but if you watch this, you will audibly say to yourself ‘come on!’. Multiple times. The ending, while well-filmed, has the world’s dumbest criminals squaring off against the world’s dumbest cops. Sheriff John Bunnell would’ve had a field day over Brody’s stupidity, only to have probably hanged himself over the stupidity of the cops responding to the situation. It’s totally ridiculous.
Look, it’s not as bad as you might hear, but not worth seeking out. The director might just be one to look out for though…