Greetings again from the darkness. Very interesting screenplay from Chris Haddock suffers a bit from the over-direction of Stephen Purvis. The best parts of this noir sting flick include Lou Diamond Phillips evolving from the drug-neutered autistic hotel clerk (with a violent past) to a much different man by film end. The weakest segments involve heavy-handed over-dramatic moments with much hysteria and theatrics.
While James McDaniel (Lt. Fancy from "NYPD Blue) gets coached into an over-the-top performance as the bad cop, Bruce Weitz (excellent in "Hill Street Blues") joins him chewing the scenes as the paraplegic owner of a supposed fertile gold mine. Strangely Glenn Plummer is much milder in his portrayal of a drug dealer that probably should have been jazzed up a bit. Next to Mr. Phillips, the best performance in the film belongs to Tracy Middendorf as the beautiful, yet not so trustworthy object of multiple affections.
According to director Purvis, filming in Reno was quite painful, but it works very well as the setting. The hotel El Cortez is perfect with its old timey look and feel and, in the end, the Cortez name has a dual role. Definitely worth seeing for the story and Phillips' performance, but disappointing in that it could have been much more.
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