A few years back I saw my man Nick Rossi in a movie titled ‘Played’ which has a lot of the same players as this movie ‘2:22’. The thing is that ‘Played, at least in my humble opinion, was awful. Damn near unwatchable. And that’s with the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Val Kilmer, Anthony LaPaglia and Vinnie Jones. I know, I know… Vinnie doesn’t have much of a conscience when it comes to what he takes a check for, but we still love the guy. So with Mr. Rossi’s film ‘2:22’, with a lot of the same players installed… my hopes weren’t all that high but I do like heist flicks and crime flicks so I’m gonna watch regardless. I’ll have you know that ‘2:22’ is so not ‘Played’ to the extent that it’s almost the anti-Played. It’s always a good day when ones expectations are exceeded.
When we first meet Gulliver Mercer (Rossi), we see the alcoholic finishing off a drink and then proceeding to beat the hell out of some guy who was doing his wife. As a rule of thumb I tend to place the majority of the blame for these situation on the lady considering they are the ones that owns the v-jay. Plus did this guy even know she was married? For all he knows he got his ass kicked for no reason. That’s some potentially unjust stuff right there.
Regardless, I believe this scene was inserted to let us know that Gulliver can handle himself when necessary and that he does have some issues. Gulliver’s main vocation is that of a jewel thief with his crew, that consists of the old and wise Willy (Robert Milano), Gael the Latin Lover (Jorge Jimenez) and Finn the Psycho (Aaron Gallagher). They follow Gulliver’s tightly executed plans, Gulliver delivers the take to his wacky fence played by Val Kilmer, they get their money and everybody is happy. Except the Psycho. Why these criminal crews in these movies always have this character along for the ride is beyond me.
But now it’s New Years Eve and Gulliver, who’s been off the sauce for about a year, has a new heist planned at a local downtown hotel. Gulliver does his recon, sets up the crew with the plan, they descend upon the hotel on this day and execute the plan which consists of emptying the hotel’s safe deposit boxes. But this plan does have some hiccups along the way. For starters they have to pretend to be hotel staff for a
couple of hours which provides for some interesting situations. Then there’s the number of tied up hostages piling up in the back room, not to mention the obnoxious guy (Peter Dobson) with the doped out chick in room 204, who is also in possession of a kilo of the white stuff and forty large. He has vowed revenge. He also has friends with guns who are looking for him and these guys know what the hotel staff members are supposed to look like.
As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. Kind of. In a way.
Directed by Phillip Guzman ‘2:22’ is a heist flick that does a lot of things that just feel right. It also does some things that are a little strange. For starters the movie has this low budget, gritty, grainy feel to it that works wonders for this cold and uncomfortable atmosphere that we are thrust into. The crime that our crew is about to commit is no great shakes as far as Crimes of the Century go, but it is the type of crime that you would expect these lower level type criminals to attempt to pull off which made this crime completely manageable and also made it a believable scenario for the audience to buy into. If these cats were trying to snatch the Hope Diamond, then we’d have a problem. The characters were well presented with each one getting a little bit of development to help us get a feel for their personalities and temperaments, but not so much development where it was unnecessary fluff and there wasn’t room for some open interpretation. The performances were also solid, particularly Rossi and his character of Gulliver who pulled off Hostile Cool with no problem and Gabriel Byrne who shows up in an oddly uncredited role as the cop investigating the crime. The tension was consistently high, the situations were intense and the pacing was methodically smooth.
But there were some things… for instance this movie relies and awful lot on circumstance and coincidence. Without giving anything away since these coincidences are plot critical, while the crimes and the characters were completely believable, the circumstances and coincidences that led to some of their unfortunate situations were completely unbelievable. I also didn’t quite understand the subtext of the depressed old dude (Bruce Kirby) looking for a spot to commit suicide. I’m sure it meant something but that went over my head.
Those nitpicks aside, ‘2:22’ was solid entry into the heist genre with its gritty look, well realized characters and its judicious use of violent imagery. This is why we always say, just like those Schwab commercials, that past performance is no indicator of future earnings.