A police sergeant must rally the cops and prisoners together to protect themselves on New Year's Eve, just as corrupt policeman surround the station with the intent of killing all to keep their deception in the ranks.
When a Las Vegas performer-turned-snitch named Buddy Israel decides to turn state's evidence and testify against the mob, it seems that a whole lot of people would like to make sure he's no longer breathing.
After being imprisoned for six years on a grand theft auto charge, Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) and his cellmate Nick (James Frain) are finally going to be paroled. After hearing endless stories during his incarceration of Nick's romantic correspondence to a woman named Ashley he has never met (Charlize Theron), Rudy is looking forward to returning to his family and having a fresh cup of hot chocolate. When Nick is killed during a prison riot, Rudy decides to assume Nick's identity upon release from prison and meet up with the unknown woman. Burdened with a base knowledge of Nick's Indian casino employment past, Rudy finds himself in too deep with Ashley's brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) and is violently forced to cooperate with a casino robbery that Gabriel and his gang have been planning with Nick in mind. Written by
Ben Affleck plays Rudy, a con just trying to go straight (are there other kinds in the movies?), waiting for his imminent release. He and his cellmate Nick each have plans of enjoying themselves once they get out of stir. Nick's involves meeting and spending the rest of his life with a woman he's never met, a pen pal named Ashley (Charlize Theron). Ah, but the best-laid plans and all that go horribly awry when Nick is slain a few days before they're both due to be sprung. What a coincidence! Naturally, Rudy pretends to be Nick to Ashley, discovering her to be quite the cutie. You see, he's just gotten out of prison, hasn't been with a woman in years, and.... Well, anyway, he hooks up with the gorgeous Ashley, and all is well - for a few hours, anyway, until Ashley's brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) shows up and demands Rudy/Nicky help him and his gang - who have never robbed anyone - pull off a heist of a local Indian casino. Of course, Rudy, being Rudy and not Nick, doesn't know a thing about the casino (Nick was a guard there years ago). And he tries to tell Gabriel that. But wouldn't you know it, the creep just won't listen! (Bad guys are like that.)
So your basic plot involves Rudy trying to help/not help these guys with their evil plan, and of course they'll stop at nothing, and of course things go wrong, etc. Oh sure, there are a few plot twists, and some will have you guessing, but my bet is there's going to be a lot in this movie that you've seen before. And if you think the plot's relatively ho-hum, with few surprises, then you're left with the performances of the three main leads.
Ben Affleck is miscast, in my opinion. His character's not terribly likeable (I mean he DOES lie to Charlize Theron, after all), but that's not his fault. Affleck's problem is that he combines arrogance with tough-guy attitude and thinks it makes him multifaceted. No, Ben, it makes you look like a jerk. A better choice for this role might have been Edward Norton (Fight Club). Norton can play tough with foibles, and I don't think Affleck has that ability.
Charlize Theron is outstanding. She delivers a deep, stunning performance that produces new wrinkles with each scene. Much like Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Theron is crafty, essaying more in those bewitching eyes than most actors can in an entire soliloquy.
And Gary Sinise? He's Gary Sinise. He's sinister, he's mean-spirited....he's the heavy. He's the bad guy, folks, and Sinise has played this role a few times, so he knows what he's doing. Oh sure, maybe his character is nothing more than a cardboard Bad Guy role, but hey, that's more the fault of the screenwriting than it is of the actor, so I won't blame him. I've seen his talent range, and I know he's got some. (See Of Mice and Men or The Green Mile or Ransom.)
Bottom line - it's not exactly filled with the kind of twists that'll keep you guessing, but it's not too bad. It is, however, a bit of a comedown from the director of The Manchurian Candidate. But fret not, friends - it is, after all, a rental at this point, and it's worth the $3.50 or so.
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