Frankenheimer's twisty thriller feels like a film from the mid-'60s, albeit one with a '50s B noir set-up and a Runyon-esque turns: it's Yuletide and there are several dead Santas. The widescreen, deep focus compositions and long takes give free rein to the actors, whose natural performances are curiously at odds with the arch clever-cleverness of the screenplay. Too complicated to summarise, the plot has Affleck leaving prison and being lured into an amateurish casino heist by Theron, a femme fatale masquerading as a wholesome blue collar girl. Affleck is too lightweight and likeable to convince as a hardened criminal, but Theron shows her claws as the white trash wildcat and, as her violent, psychotic 'brother', Sinise adds a nasty edge. There are enjoyable moments, not least the hungry love-making of Affleck and Theron shortly after his release. Filmed with handheld cameras and edited as jump cuts, the scene is far from explicit but looks and feels like two people having raunchy sex. By contrast, the action scenes are flaccid, while all the snappy dialogue sounds just that: snappy movie dialogue.
Cast and crew
Clarence Williams III