Suicide Kings (1997)
7/10
"The Best--Or Worst Way To Kill Yourself? A Caper That Must Have Doomed From The Beginning"
1 January 2014
by Dane Youssef

"Tarantinoesque (adj) – referring to or reminiscent of the work of the American film-maker and actor Quentin Tarantino (born 1963), known for the violence and wit of his films." --Collins English Dictionary

Tarantino never set foot in a film school. He might not even have taken TV Media in high school. But he still changed the genre. With "Reservoir Dogs," he was established. With "Pulp Fiction," he was God.

Hollywood is like high school. When one does something that really gets popular, it sparks... the trend. And all the others follow suit-- following the leader like cult lemmings. And in film, influence can be essential. Or just sad and embarrassing. Tarantino inspired many--a lot of particular imitators. Some good. And... as for this one?

"SUICIDE KINGS" dares to spin a yarn of a quartet of wealthy privileged youngsters who dream up... and then try the most desperate and daring of schemes...

The reformed mobster is on his way home one night after an invigorating evening out. There's an ambush, he's attacked. He comes to... only to find himself bound-and-gagged in a chair somewhere. What the hell's going on?

A hostage film. A mob-crime flick. And also eventually... kind of mystery "whodunnit?" thriller, the plot twists and turns--especially in the last quarter of the picture.

Just a bunch of boys having fun. Bein' boys--not unlike "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction."

"The Godfather in question" finds in a cabin somewhere surrounded by rich collegiate in nice suits who seem to fancy themselves their own independent Mafioso. He sees red--on someone's shirt, as it's covered in the Goodfella's blood. The whole plan goes as wrong as we'd expect and the spoiler richies panic--and then these dumb rich silver spoons all turn on each other.

"SUICIDE KINGS" boasts one of those casts that we'd expect from the latest Tarantino picture. Christopher Walken, Laura Harris, Jeremy Sisto, Brad Garrett, Jay Mohr, Johnny Galecki, Sean Patrick Flanery, Henry Thomas, Laura San Giacomo and Dennis Leary.

OK, not quite the highest-of-profile names for the most part. But still, everyone does a worthwhile job. Only Walken, Leary and Galecki only really stand-out.

Walken confirms the belief that any scene he's in--just flat-out works. Even when the screenplay gives him the most ludicrous insights: "But I come from out there, and everybody out there knows, everybody lies: cops lie, newspapers lie, parent's lyin'. The one thing you can count on - word on the street... yeah, that's solid." Uh-huh. That's why so many schoolyard and water-cooler rumors are considered holy fact.

Walken sees how nervous they all are (who wouldn't be?) and attempts to get them to turn on each other. Seeing as it's a typical hostage situation with the victim being tied to a chair--he tries the usual of divide-and-conquer. "There's an inside guy. A mole," he tells them. "But who?" When they do finally start playing poker, Walken reads them easily.

Leary has the most fun in his role doing what I suppose can best be described as "the quintessential Denis Leary role." He's "Denis Leary in the mob." Ranting about his wife and his expensive footwear. Doing a good deed and then bring down his usual Biblical wrath.

Galecki is kind of fun as the rich worrywart nebbish whose family owns the place and seems a lot more concerned with mud being tracked on the floor, what happening to his father's favorite chair than the fact that a mobster is bound and he know everyone's name...

All the other actors--they get a passing grade, but they don't quite stand out. "SUICIDE KINGS" is like that--hit-and-miss.

The whole abduction is so badly planned--the movie itself even takes notice of this. At one point in the movie, Walken's character says to his captors: "You guys didn't think this through too good, did you?" Anyone with a handful of working brain cells will be thinking the same thing. I kind of wanted to ask the filmmakers this. The amount of obvious mistakes these guys make. Oh, they're clearly not professionals.

The movie's screenwriters Josh McKinney, Gina Goldman and Wayne Allen Rice take Don Stanford's original short story "The Hostage" from and heavily "Quentin Tarantino-ize it." Some thought they paid homage real proper. Some thought all this seems like something at best he might have in the bottom of his drawer--and forgot about forever.

Director Peter O' Fallon has real flair and style. He certainly films this thing with a lot of energy to spare. The kind we've seen best in... well, you know where. He gives a lot of wild-child style and so does everyone else involved.

Heist/kidnapping movies that deal with "inside jobs" just gotta have that moment where the ship's going down in flame and the rats all turn on each other.

"SUICIDE KINGS" is still worth a look for a slow night. Better than a lot of the merde being crapped out of Hollywood's big uncreative anus. "SUICIDE KINGS" doesn't beat the house and take the pot, but like poker, it's not a bad way to spend a slow night with your friends.

And in the end... Well... This is all pretty unbelievable. The ending however, is inevitable. And makes all the sense in the world.

See, for me--The Suicide Kings seems more like Jon Favreau's "Swingers" than the Reservoir Dogs. Hey, maybe that was another source of inspiration!

You might have to see it more than once to really get it all straight. Take notes, if you have to. Not to give anything away at all, but just to close it all on this one poetic line: "Sometimes the ends really do justify the means. Or at least define the meaning of the words 'karma' and 'justice'".

--Having Really Enjoyed It, Dane Youssef
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