Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It’s not looking like I’m going to be able put a positive spin on this one. From the outset before actually getting a chance to see director Alan Pao’s ‘Toxic’ it looked like a movie that would have to work real hard to be crap considering it features such acting luminaries as Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo and Steven Bauer just to name a few. It also has a list beautiful actresses in its cast that’s longer than my arm, and my arms are pretty damn long. Then you watch the trailer which is filled with shooting and killing and dying and slinky women with even a horror twist and needless to say, along with being the king of the run-on sentence, I’m pretty excited about seeing this movie. Well my disappointment holds no bounds as ‘Toxic’ was a complete and total mess.

Lucille Van Sant (Charity Shea) is kar-ay-zay. Lucille is not only crazy but cursed. Lucille is not only crazy and cursed but she is the irresistible object of men’s desires which explains how the institutionalized hottie seems to be able to escape from being locked away in insanitariums. One person who isn’t vexed by Lucille’s hotness is her father Alexander (Sizemore). Her father seems to be well aware of Lucille’s curse, a curse which ends with the death of anybody who tries to help her, and his trusty hot Asian psychic Lena (Bai Ling) ethereally tracks the girls every move because Alexander’s very survival rests on him managing to stay away from his daughter.

To assist in finding his recently escaped daughter, Mob Boss Alexander has two of his trusty goons in Sid (Corey Large) and Antoine (Trejo) track her down and hopefully keep her away from him. Just follow the dead bodies he says and she should be easy to find. Now I’m telling this story in a linear fashion but this movie is anything but as the narrative, as it were, leapt from past to future to present and back to the past again. In between Sid trying to find the girl, the next time we see him he’s in the future working at a bar run by the sleazy Steve played by Costas Mandylor, who was easily

the best thing that this movie had going for it. Sid is also falling for the crazy hot Michelle (Susan Ward) who strips at the bar, though we never got the opportunity to see her boobies which is yet another strike against this mess. Sid also seems to be losing his mind as he is routinely attacked each night by what appears to be the ghost of Lucille who we assume has been killed sometime in between all this jumping around. There’s all kind of other stuff happening in this flick involving Master P., Dominique Swain, and C. Thomas Howell among others in a rather vast cast but I suppose what we’re supposed to be concerned about is the mystery of what happened to Lucille and why is she haunting Sid. Chances are you will be underwhelmed, that is if you’re still watching the movie at this point.

The first fifteen or twenty minutes of ‘Toxic’ felt some kind of Adobe After Effects tech demo as the movie incessantly flashed and blurred and froze and sped up amidst all kinds of fancy motion graphics and stylized text and lame narration. This is in itself was an effort to keep watching the film as it almost made me nauseous and truly had me hoping that the movie wouldn’t be in this style for its duration. Hooray for small favors because soon the film settles into a regular look, but then we had to deal with the fractured narrative which can actually work when done correctly, but here… well… not so much. The promise of a decent flick was here because the cast is literally a motley crew of whose who, sent down from B-movie heaven, but Pao offers no real direction for the cast in his film, just fancy jump cuts.

Eventually in the middle of the swirling graphical pyrotechnics it becomes obvious that we are just sitting around at this point waiting for the ‘twist’ in this movie to explain what the hell is going on and when it does finally reveal itself, it does help explain away a lot of the stuff that was happening in the film, though it doesn’t make the movie any better.

Performance wise there wasn’t a lot the large cast of the actors could do to help this movie as it was too scattershot in its presentation for any the eclectic cast members, outside of Costas Mandylor for whatever reason, to do what they do. We all know that Danny Trejo and Tom Sizemore are both great but they were wasted here, particularly Sizemore who couldn’t even find the effort to get out of his chair in this flick. Most of the weight of the narrative fell on the shoulders of Corey Large, who’s a good looking kid but he’s really not much of an actor.

It seems that ‘Toxic’ simply suffered from the filmmakers over thinking what they were doing here. I understand the need to ‘show what you can do’, but sometimes maybe the best course of action is to just make a normal ass movie. Particularly considering the creators here were blessed with a nice cast, a crazy amount of hotties, lots of guns and even a few bucks to make it all work as the film did look quite nice. I appreciate the effort but the results we subpar at best.

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