Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

What in the heck was this?  So I get this screener for this movie called ‘Played’ and it’s got Val Kilmer in it, along with Vinne Jones, Gabriel Byrne, Anthony LaPaglia and some other top notch talent, including Val’s ex wife, Joanne Whalley, who I’m surprised agreed to even appear in a movie with Val, though all her scenes were in London and his in Los Angeles.  The movie starts with Val ordering up some grub at some curbside stand.   This was obviously shot on blurry digital video, but I’m not mad at that because I’m assuming that it’s all for effect because we got us a gritty, hard edged crime movie going on here.  Cut the next scene of the movie which has some dude named Mick Rossi, as Ray, bleeding profusely on the floor of a house trying phone a guy named Eddie, but instead finding Dylan (Kilmer).  Again, so far so good.  Blurry digital video denotes a hard edge, add that to some dude who’s dying being driven around by the Iceman and we may have a little gem on our hands.


Alas it was not to be.  While being driven around by Dylan and bleeding to death, the Ray character starts to narrate how he got to this point, and it was pretty much all down hill from there.


In a nutshell, Ray is a petty thief hired by Riley (Patrick Bergin) through dirty ass cop Detective Brice (Jones) to steal some smack out of an evidence lock up.  The job goes to hell with one member of Ray’s crew dying and another, Terry (Trevor Nugent) being the son of a noted a local gangster heavy.  As such, Riley fingers Ray who does an eight year stint for the crime.  Now out, Ray is contacted by an old partner Danny in Los Angeles who is being blackmailed by Riley and he wants Ray’s assistance in the

matter, also, Terry’s dad Jack (Ray Doltrice) wants revenge on Riley as well because he blames Riley for Terry’s drug overdose while Ray was doing time.  Being that Ray hates Riley anyway he’s completely down for the job, plus it pays 100 large.  So now Ray is off to L.A. to kill the duplicitous Riley, but should be playing closer attention to what’s going on around him because it looks like he may be being ‘Played’.


Initially seeing the presence of the gritty, blurry digital video doesn’t upset me because I don’t believe you need and Arriflex 765 70mm film camera to have a decent movie.  Hell, the kind of camera you shoot on means next to nothing on whether or not your film is going to be any good.  But there comes a time, particularly while watching ‘Played’, when you seriously start to wonder if these filmmakers have a clue about what the hell they are doing.  There is no depth to the images in ‘Played’ and it seems as if not a single external light was used in the production.  ‘Joe, is that lamp working by the bed?  Cool, turn it on and this scene is lit!’  I’m not sure what kind of video camera they used to shoot this thing, but if it was anything above a Hitachi VHS-C, I know it was capable of doing a better job.


So watching big stars in a movie shot with a Sony Handycam and lit with the house fluorescents, still doesn’t mean the movie has to be bad, but unfortunately the narrative of ‘Played’ does little to hide amateurishness of the way it was shot.  The story starts off promising enough, but it soon loses its way and crushes itself under the weight of its own attempts at complexity and soon totally stops making any kind of sense.  It would seem as if we’re going for a ‘Snatch’ style of story, but the director didn’t have the skill, and most certainly didn’t have resources or story arc to be able to competently pull that off.


Now who is this Mick Rossi guy?  A little research reveals that he is a musician of sorts and it would seem he got an idea for a movie, and too his credit, rounded up a bunch of fairly large names and got this thing done.  I can’t be mad at the dude for that, because he’s obviously a guy that can pull rabbits out a hat with a big hole in the bottom it.  But Mr. Rossi was bit underwhelming as the star of the movie, and though he did seem to master the part of the weasely petty thief, when the time came be the ruthless thug killer, it just didn’t fly.  This part was probably a bit much to ask of a man for his first major film role.  Though if I was making a film, and I made myself the star, I would certainly make myself a badass too.  Bet on that.


Not all is lost as ‘Played’ as did have a lot of seriously professional actors who, well, acted professionally.  There was also a gratuitous strip club scene with a stripper who had a body that seemed it was designed by some talented plastic surgeon for just this purpose.  I tell you, when technology and nature get to together, the results can be wondrous.


Regardless, the bottom line is that ‘Played’ was not good.  So let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

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