Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In the movie the ‘Big I Am’ we meet Mickey Skinner (Leo Gregory) who is a loser. Seriously. He’s a habitual petty criminal who lives with his sister and her kids, his primary goal seems to be to work with his top mate Keys (Paul Kaye), a cat who is clearly three cents short of a nickel, as they conspire to grow some kind of designer marijuana. Worst still, to get this insane venture off the ground he borrowed ten large from a low level gangsta calling himself Robbo (MC Harvey) who wants his money back three yesterday’s ago. Mickey Skinner is a loser, but his life is about to change.

In the history of bad dudes, mobster Don Barber (Vincent Regan) is one of the worst. This flick is filled with terrible people and the majority of these people call this guy boss. So bad is Don Barber that his main competitor Stubbs (Phillip Davis) has conspired with some people within Barber’s own organization to rid the earth of this guy and they would’ve pulled this off too if Mickey Skinner didn’t boost the BMW that was parked outside with Don Barber in the trunk about to be ferried to his final destination.

Mickey frees Don Barber, Don Barber goes about the process of executing some Don Barber like justice upon those who would do him harm, though Stubbs did manage to slip away, and Barber rewards Mickey for his assistance. But here’s the thing, Barber realizes he really can’t trust anybody right about now and Mickey Skinner is desperate for a break, so with a shipment of contraband coming down requiring the exchange of a large amount funds, Barber makes Mickey an offer he can’t refuse. He probably should’ve refused but he didn’t. To get this thing going Barber introduces Mickey to his American partner Martell (Michael Madsen) and his crazy hot Hungarian girlfriend and former prostitute Liza (Beatrice Rosen) who should be able to give Mickey some assistance in making this happen. Their assistance has become more critical because Barber has gotten pinched and has to spend 24 hours in jail which means it’s up to Mickey, who has gone from pathetic petty criminal to top mob lieutenant in a span of thirty minutes, to successfully pull this deal off.

Barber gives Mickey a crash course on how to be hard, Mickey soaks it up like sponge and a mobster is born. On the surface it seemed like fun, but underneath all of the gloss are some things that aren’t cool at all. Not in the least. Plus whoever double crossed Barber will probably stab Mickey in the back too, and Mickey doesn’t know who that person might be. And Don Barber’s 24 hours are up and he’s in a worse mood than usual. Life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind, or so I’ve heard.

Directed by Nic Aurebach this movie ‘The Big I Am’ has a running time around 100 minutes. I mention that because I really, truly enjoyed the first 90 or so minutes of this movie with a running time of around 100 minutes.

The setup is laid out perfectly with Leo Gregory being almost custom designed to play the role of Mickey Skinner. The kind of character that Mickey happens to be is clearly defined, Gregory does a great job of translating this character to us and when things start happening to this character we are into this character, and in a way we are even pulling for this character even though he’s not exactly a ‘good guy’, but he’s not bad guy either. Vincent Regan’s Don Barber on the other hand is a bad guy. Vincent Regan took this role so seriously that I’m pretty sure that he was no fun to be around on set while they were filming this movie since I’m guessing he stayed in character all the time to maintain his intensity level for Don Barber. The transformation that Skinner had to go through, while probably a bit unrealistic in the grand scheme of things, was still very entertaining to watch, and once he got to that point his disillusionment of what it would take to stay at that level was much more realistically presented. Sure MC Harvey might’ve wanted to bring Robbo down a couple of notches and yeah… Michael Madsen… well… you know we love Michael Madsen regardless.

So the movie is humming along and cooking down to the moment that Don Barber gets out of lockup. What is going to happen when Don Barber gets out is what we are waiting to see. It is in these last ten minutes that the movie just… falls apart. The final result was pretty much what you would have expected but the way it went about its business in getting there just didn’t seem to match with the way that the rest of the movie was flowing. It was weird, actually, the way the filmmakers opted to resolve this movie. Another thing that left me out of sorts a bit with this film was the romance that they were asking us to accept between Liza the battered whore and Mickey the guy she met last night. Love to the point where she was ready to sacrifice her life for this guy. Where did that come from? Mickey and Liza didn’t spend nearly enough time with each other in this span of 24 hours for this relationship of theirs to realistically develop and we can’t begin to tell you what they saw in each other, outside of Liza being hot. The time we did spend with Liza, she was presented to us as opportunistic and back stabbing, so for her to find instant love and trust in a complete stranger really didn’t match up with the character we got to know. This was something else was thrown at us in the last chaotic ten minutes of this movie that you’re being asked, if not begged to buy into.

But 90 minutes of a good movie, in my worthless opinion, is better no good movie at all. I’m just curious what was the creative thought process that went into the final decisions in ending this movie, because it looked to me that ‘The Big I Am’ was on its way to being something special, but ended up being something that was simply okay.

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