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A hallmark of this genre (invented by Tarrantino?) is to have people with incongruous-to-gangster traits...I guess these connect the audience to otherwise abhorrent killers/thieves. In this regard they were really trying a bit too hard...the bookie Troy who expresses himself with 80s pop songs...the tender yet brutal Moose. To me it seems like these were the result of an engineered effort to create 'Pulp Fiction-' or 'LS&2SB-' like characters.
But I did like Leo's character.
The movie's scuppered by the ludicrous casting of comedian Brian Conley as a gangster who we see taking a bite of a man's ear in the beginning; he comes off as too playground-villainous to take seriously, and the rest of the movie is just as plausible (tip: do not go and attack and/or threaten people when there are witnesses around, a piece of advice ignored TWICE in the course of the movie). David Logan's script needed some stronger direction and a bit of restraint, instead of piling double-cross upon double-cross until it's soon hard to tell just what the hell's going on, culminating in an "Oh-for-God's-sake!" ending.
"Circus" is diverting enough, but a waste of John Hannah, a bigger waste of Fred Ward, something of a waste of Amanda Donohoe, and an absolutely criminal waste of Famke Janssen (who is not only super-fit but, unlike Conley, actually CAN be convincingly tough - it's impossible to believe she appeared in both this and "X-Men" in 2000 ... then again, she did do "House on Haunted Hill"). What she was doing in this movie we can only speculate; did she fancy a trip to Brighton? Or is she a secret fan of "Rebus"? Or "The Brian Conley Show"?
And one more piece of advice - don't go mentioning "The Sweet Smell Of Success" in your movie, unless you really want to draw unfair comparisons. Mind you, it's preferable to actually going to a circus; I never liked the things.
Janssen and Hannah make a good couple. I have read some reviews that said they were not believable; I disagree. I actually thought they were a cute couple, and that they shared a kind of playful chemistry. The supporting players were also very good, particularly Stormare and Izzard.
Many people have complained about this movie's numerous twists and turns. However, I do not think the outcome would have been the same without them. Also, personally, I like to be surprised.
Really, what kind of disgusting, moronic, cynical crud is this? Even neo-noir films have some character you either feel for or want to feel for, even if they're wretched and doomed; they at least have some decency to them, some sense that what they've done is wrong, or that a seemingly good plan has gone wrong, and that somehow they're stuck with the responsibility for it.
Not in this stanky stew. These characters are putrid, betraying each other, themselves, and the audience.
Also, note that they are low-lives - all right, nothing wrong with that - except that they seem to be living a life of luxury. For a film supposedly about desperate petty thieves, the keynote here is - ennui. It's all so terribly dull and dross, doncha know. So let's just rip some people off or maybe murder them, and go get laid in a luxury hotel. What ambition!
Gooping this whole mess to some bottom of swampy muck are: boringly uneven pacing; predictable 'action' sequences that aren't; banal and incoherent set-design; made-for-bad-TV camera-work and editing; forgettable score; and an entire lack of any imagination or innovation in production and direction.
Wholly unbelievable, unlikeable, and for less dedicated movie watchers(or masochists) like myself, utterly unwatchable.
There are other nasty things I would like to say about this nasty film, but they wouldn't print them here. Suffice it to say, you can probably find something more useful to do with your time than watch this film - just about anything, in fact.