A safecracker is double-crossed by a gang of bankrobbers and must outwit them to steal back his share of the loot.



2 wins. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Brian Battisti ...
Aydin Bikul ...
Jahnika Blythe ...
Leona Butler ...
Tom Shannon
Russ Cohen ...
Malcolm Dotson ...
Joe Greenan ...
D. Michael Kane ...
Joe Mazza ...
Cory McAbee ...
Frank Montelongo ...
Frankie Jr.
Tony Morrissey ...
Vernon Nellis ...
Freddy Boon


Clever payback thriller about a weak-willed safecracker who gets double-crossed by a gang of bank robbers. A tightly-woven script filled with wit and snappy film-noir dialogue, this low-life caper moves with great energy and contains performances from a colorful collection of veteran character actors. Written by G. Meyer

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Crime only pays when you work alone.


Thriller | Crime



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Release Date:

4 September 2004 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


All of the graffiti backgrounds in the movie were spray-painted by underground artist David Choe. See more »

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User Reviews

Marvelous caper that deserves repeated viewings.
8 October 2004 | by (Trenton, NJ) – See all my reviews

This may be the most impressive film I saw at Telluride. While most of the other festival-goers were busy rifling through their programs looking for the latest celebrity appearance, this little movie snuck up on everyone else. Due to its adherence to genre, it's likely to be under-appreciated by the casual viewer, but there is a distinct knowingness that elevates this film beyond the typical festival fare.

Right from the beginning, with the lengthy single shot that pulls back and brings us into the story, it's clear that atmosphere and tone will play a big part of the telling. Charlie sits holding a hand of cards among a grubby circle of poker players -IN AN EMPTY PUBLIC RESTROOM! The movie is filled with these surprises. It takes a few moments to realize these nuances because this film isn't hitting you over the head with every detail, or slowing down for sweeping panoramas. In fact, it's a bit claustrophobic really. I was also pleasantly surprised that the technical parts of the film were so aptly constructed. There's hardly a cut-away to a close-up in the entire film, none of those awkward moments at the ends of a scene, just straightforward cuts to the next dramatic point and this keeps the tempo brisk and assured.

It's not strictly a thriller, a film noir, a comedy, or a heist film per se. The title character is a safe cracker who doesn't have his heart into the job -or seems to struggle with the moral issues in his line of work- and prefers to keep a hands off approach to stealing. He's scolded for this by his mentor, an elderly blind man who used to crack safes and now has turned over the business to Charlie.

Frankly, it seems that everyone knows what Charlie does and that he isn't very good at it. So by this standard, the lead isn't really a typical hero and the movie isn't really a grist-of-the-mill crime caper. But it is a riveting good time.

What was really an amazing achievement is that the events and characters really suck you into the story until you forget you're watching a bunch of new faces. I hadn't seen any of these actors before, and it never occurred to me that they were all making their debut. You just couldn't tell, they were so confident and believable.

Being an avid film buff, and wanting to see this film again right away, I was disappointed that I was at a festival and would have to wait to catch it in the theaters or on video. By no means is it the kind of film that can be completely soaked in by a single viewing, and in my opinion, this is one of the tests of a great film. There's just so much going on in the way the camera angles restrict the viewing of certain characters, and the repetition of key phrases, that makes we wish I could pause and rewind to see everything again. It amazed me that the tempo and the image clarity was so professional and that the final line is one of the most graceful notes I have ever seen a movie go out on. 5 stars out of 5.

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