Rarely has there been a movie that began life so gloriously yet fizzled out so completely and Russell Mulcahey’s noir-esque crime drama ‘Give ‘em Hell Malone’ is that rare film. Our film opens with Thomas Jane doing a little narration as the character of Malone in the middle of a shootout. And what an amazing, over-the-top, violent ass shoot out it is. As a matter of fact if you wanted to stop this movie after this shootout, one that features plenty of bullets entering foreheads and exiting the back of skulls with brain matter trailing behind these exiting bullets… you have my permission. Some of you however may balk at this because you haven’t seen Ving Rhames or French Stewart or Elsa Pataky yet and you want you check out these actors in this film… in which case we give you the pass to keep moving forward, though you may be disappointed in what you get.
So the reason behind this most spectacular shootout is our man Malone is on a gig to retrieve this case, or the McGuffin as it is commonly known in cinematic lore. These henchmen are doing the best they can to protect this case but Malone is one tough S.O.B. and eventually, with a death toll so high that you would think the local police would be at least curious as to what might’ve gone down, Malone gets what he came for.
But what’s in this case? As far as we can tell it’s not much of anything with Malone saying as much but folks do want this case returned rather badly. In particular the heavy of this movie Mr. Whitmore (Gregory Harrison) wants whatever is in this case and to this end has dispatched his right hand man and chief enforcer Boulder (Rhames) to handle the job. But even Boulder is wary of the specter of Malone considering that Malone has lost all fear of death ever since his family was brutally murdered a few years back.
Of course what would a movie like this be like without a fatal female to deal with and that brings the lovely Elsa Pataky to the scene as the mysterious Evelyn who was the unknown figure who hired Malone to find this case in the first place. Not surprisingly Evelyn, like any decent femme fatale, is not telling us everything that she knows about this case and everybody seems to be in on the scam in some way or form.
What exactly is so important about this darned case anyway? Malone will have to sift through a myriad of thugs, goons, murderous Japanese Schoolgirls, horrible lounge singers, pathological arsonist and more thugs and goons to get to the brutal violent and bloody truth!
So where did ‘Give ‘em Hell Malone’ go oh so wrong after tricking us into thinking it was going to be oh so right? Admittedly we knew the movie couldn’t maintain the explosively glorious first five minutes that introduced to the film… it would’ve been cool if it could’ve done that and maybe a bit exhausting, but cool. But we knew it had settle down and turn into some kind of normal movie. The ingredients for sustaining this excellence certainly seemed to be in place with a solid star in Thomas Jane, who we just got through seeing in that great HBO TV show ‘Hung’ and we have Ving Rhames who I personally thought was grossly misused in this movie. I mean there’s something that just doesn’t seem right about Ving Rhames being all scaredy and watching Thomas Jane having Ving Rhames immobilized and disabled in a reverse headlock that just didn’t look right. I know little dudes who can fight will the kick the collective asses of big dudes who can’t fight all day long, but this did not look correct in the universe. There’s also Doug Hutchinson over there playing a lunatic as per usual plus the movie has some slick visuals to go along with the overall polished look of the movie.
Sadly after this promising beginning it all devolves into a jumbled, erratic mess. One of the issues was the attempt at noir which is always cool in theory but sounds like crap when it fails. If you ever saw Rian Johnson’s ‘Brick’, that was a movie that got the dialog that these guys were shooting for down pat. I see what they were trying to do but the dialog was off, the snap was missing and language was all wrong. Driving an old car and putting on a fedora sideways does not make Noir. As a matter of fact if they had scrapped that particular element of the movie in the planning stage, after some kind and concerned person might have pointed out that it wasn’t working, I think the movie would’ve been a little better. Just my opinion.
Then we have the mystery of the ‘case’ to deal with which seems to just go in a big circle and concludes into something adding up to almost nothing. I’m not going to get into the particulars because it is a mystery and shouldn’t be exposed but the whole purpose behind this mystery didn’t seem to serve much purpose at all. At least as far as I could tell.
Even though ‘Give ‘em Hell Malone’ ended up disappointing me greatly, it was an attempt at a different kind of movie. As it ended we saw a little text screen that said ‘To Be Continued…’ and while I don’t think that’s going to happen to this Straight to DVD movie I hope it does continue because now the filmmakers have a second chance to get this thing right after seeing where they went so wrong after so much early promise.