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Thomas Ian Griffith,
James Earl Jones,
A reality cop show films a police raid on a drug ring that goes awry and results in the massacre of 11 policemen. All of this gets taped by the cameraman who tries to sell the tape to the gangsters and gets killed for his efforts. Meanwhile the film commentator gets pursued by the cops, the gangsters, and some crooked FBI agents. All are after the film which he doesn't have. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
B-movie with an all-star cast and a silly script....it's sort of likable if you're in the right mood
'Felony' is a B-movie. No doubt about it.
Of course, if you take a look at the cast lineup you might have some high hopes for its entertainment potential. This film is stuffed with all of those wonderful character actors that you grew up with, the ones with the faces you immediately recognize even though you probably don't know their names. It's amazing that the filmmakers were able to get all of these people together on one project, almost like they decided to do a B-movie actor reunion. The cast even includes a couple of really first-rate actors: David Warner, who most people will recognize from 'Titanic' (although my favorite of his roles is Jack the Ripper in 'Time After Time') and Lance Henriksen, who many will remember as Bishop in 'Aliens'. These two actors have done some excellent work in their long careers and made some very fine films.
However, as impressive as this collection of actors is, their talent is never fully manifested on the screen. The writers of 'Felony' spent a lot of money to assemble a dream-team cast and then missed their golden opportunity because of one important factor, the common denominator of all B-movies: a silly script.
We start with a silly premise. The bad guys are caught on tape committing a gruesome murder and they relentlessly pursue the film crew in order to acquire the videotape and destroy the evidence. But honestly, why bother? In the time it takes them to track down the film crew, a thousand copies of that tape could be made and circulated to every law enforcement agency and media outlet. The criminals don't seem to realize how futile their effort is, and they talk as if stealing and destroying the one original videotape is going to solve the whole problem. Silly...but I suppose if the bad guys were so logical there would be no movie.
Then there is the dialogue. It is at times silly, at times cliché, and at times unbelievable...everything you have come to expect from a B-movie. Of course, I have always believed that strong performances can overcome a lot of weaknesses in the material. This cast includes actors who are definitely capable of strong performances, and although a number of the cast members are not good actors at all and have achieved B-movie status quite deservedly, one still might be hopeful that the stronger part of the cast would be able to infuse some life into their parts. However, it's disappointing to see that few of the actors in this film really seem to take the movie seriously enough to give it their best shot. There's not much inspiration evident in these performances, but then again it's an uninspiring script. Now, I'll admit that some of the more colorful actors in the cast do manage to add a certain amount of pizazz into the delivery of their lines, but honestly, even the very fine actors I mentioned earlier seem mostly disinterested and uninvolved with the story.
Speaking of the story...even if the acting had been of a high enough caliber that it made the dialogue seem a little less cheesy, it still would not redeem 'Felony' from the fact that its writer commits the ultimate faux pas of low budget action movie scripts: a plot with as many holes as a block of Swiss cheese. You can watch this movie a hundred times and you still won't figure out how everything adds up. In an effort to create suspense and always keep the viewer guessing, the writer throws in all kinds of surprises and unexpected twists into his script and ends up with a jigsaw puzzle, but when you get to the end you find there are a bunch of pieces that just don't fit anywhere and others that are missing. I admire a good thriller that keeps me guessing, but creating plot twists that exist just to confuse you and which are not consistent with the rest of the story is amateurish. There was so much that was never explained that I felt extremely frustrated at the end. If you decide to watch it, be prepared to be confused.
I haven't even mentioned all kinds of other silly things about this movie, but I won't bother. The funny thing is that despite everything I've said, I have to admit that I can't give 'Felony' 1/10 stars. Although I can't exactly put my finger on why, I actually found this film to be somewhat likable. The silliness can actually be fun at times if you are in the mood for it. Plus, I really like some of these character actors, and even though their performances are somewhat lackluster considering their talents, I still got a kick out of seeing them.
Now, I realize I have been rating this film from the standpoint of a serious moviegoer. It's entirely possible I have completely missed the point. It could be that the filmmakers' intention all along was to make a B-movie. Maybe the silliness is all completely intentional. If that's the case, and if I were to rate it on those terms, I would have to say that 'Felony' is a classic in the genre of tongue-in-cheek action flicks. B-movie fans will love seeing all of their favorite actors together in one film, will get some chuckles from the script, and will be entertained by the healthy dose of guns, explosions, and chases.
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