After being imprisoned for six years on a grand theft auto charge, Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) is days away from release as is his cellmate Nick (James Frain) who is is serving a two year sentence on a separate charge. Nick has a number of pictures from a romantic correspondence with a woman named Ashley he has never met but is waiting for his release. Rudy is looking forward to returning to his family and having a fresh cup of hot chocolate. Nick is killed defending Rudy during a prison riot. When Rudy Is released the next day from prison he recognizes Ashley waiting outside the prison for Nick and Rudy takes his place and pretends to be Nick. Nick had spoken of his previous employment in security with an Indian casino and Rudy finds himself involved with Ashley's criminal gun runner brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise). Rudy is violently coerced to cooperate with a Christmas Eve casino robbery scheme that Gabriel and his gang have been planning with Nick's casino knowledge as the key. Things... Written by
The film was cut by over twenty minutes before it's original theatrical release date of December 1999 because of both a poor test screening and the MPAA for the infamous dart torture scene which was Director John Frankenheimer's preferred version, which was dark, gritty and sexier. The film was released in Feburary 2000 in it's shorter 104 min version, which lost all of this and the real essence of the story. Frankenheimer's original version would be released a year later with the twenty minutes restored on DVD as his "Director's Cut". See more »
During the reconnaissance of the Tomahawk, the college kid says, "He gave me a hundred bucks!" and his mouth doesn't move at all. See more »
To tell ya the truth, I never was much for the holidays. It's been forever since I'd known a holiday, since I'd seen my family, since I'd been with a girl, since I'd driven a car. You see, cars are what put me here - Iron Mountain, Maximum Security Prison. I was riding a hard five for grand theft auto. Meanwhile, most of my esteemed raping and murdering colleagues were up for parole in three. The world works like that sometimes. All the time, in my experience. ...
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What Christmas Means to Me
Written by George Gordy, Allen Story and Anna Gordy Gaye
Performed by Stevie Wonder
Published by EMI April Music, Inc. (ASCAP) and EMI Blackwood Music Inc. (BMI)
o/b/o Jobete Muisc Co., Inc. (BMI) and Stone Agate Music (A Division of Jobete Music Co.,
Courtesy Motown Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises See more »
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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