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Review: American Heist

American Heist
07.20.2015
4 10
 

PLOT: An ex-con (Hayden Christensen) is pulled into a dangerous heist by his estranged brother (Adrien Brody) – who’s just out of prison and owes the mob boss (Tory Kittles) orchestrating the job a debt he can’t repay.

REVIEW: AMERICAN HEIST is awfully low-rent for a movie that played at the Toronto International Film Festival. Maybe the names attached gave the film a certain cachet but having finally seen it for myself it looks like this one is destined for a quickie release on VOD – as this is really no better than most DTV actioners that pop up every few weeks.

 

Director Sarik Andreasyan – who’s a top director in Russia – does the best that he can with a clearly minuscule budget that looks like it was wasted on a few bombastic action shots that are out of tone with the otherwise low-key film. A semi-remake of an early Steve McQueen vehicle – THE GREAT ST. LOUIS BANK ROBBERY – AMERICAN HEIST clearly has ambitions beyond the DTV bin, but the result is an often clumsy film that lacks excitement and a sense of logic.

Most viewers will likely be drawn in by the presence of stars Hayden Christensen and Adrien Brody, two actors that really need good material in order to be effective. Christensen in particularly has been MIA for a while, with this being his first American film in four years (with the Chinese OUTCAST being his only other credit since 2010’s VANISHING ON 7TH STREET). Christensen frequently winds up cast in tough guy parts that don’t suit him, a fact made worse by an annoying habit he has of talking with a faux-tough guy patter that feels desperate rather than cool. While he’s not awful in this, he just doesn’t come across as the hardened ex-con we’re supposed to think he is. A romantic subplot with the gorgeous Jordana Brewster does little to flesh out his character, and it’s hard to believe that a former con who managed to get his life back on track with a decent job and a lovely girlfriend would allow himself to be suckered into such a clearly insane job.

 

Adrien Brody fares better as the Fredo-like brother, who – in between snorts of coke – constantly betrays his brother. Like Christensen, Brody also acts tough but the difference is that we’re not supposed to believe he’s a badass and as a result Brody’s performance winds up being fairly interesting. He even gets one really solid acting moment when he lets his guard down and hysterically tells his brother than he was raped in prison and had to be protected by Kittles’ tough guy enforcer.

Moments like this make one wonder how the movie would have gone down had the writing been up to snuff, but there are just too many dumb moments for the film to even come close to working. This is especially true once the heist kicks off. Kittles’ supposedly smart mobster, who rants on and on about the pitfalls of the American economy (the social criticism is very heavy-handed), suddenly turns into a psycho once the heist starts, randomly executing bank employees for no reason. It all leads to a conclusion that’s clearly trying to be HEAT but doesn’t even come close to establishing any sense of tension. The New Orleans-location photography doesn’t help either – as the vibe of the city is never really captured, making this feel all the more generic.

The best thing that can be said about AMERICAN HEIST is that it’s not awful thanks to a general sense of professionalism from all involved. Still, it’s about as run-of-the-mill as you can get and really only worth seeing if you’re a major fan of Christensen or Brody. Otherwise it’s an easy one to ignore.  

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:21PM on 07/21/2015

My wife is fascinated by Brody's nose...

I already told her Adrian Brodys' nose is in two new movies. One with Anakin Skywalker and another with Jackie Chan and John Cusack. Both look terrible though.

How did a guy go from The Pianist to direct to video shit so fast? He was cool in Predators, and he is amazing in Wes Anderson films but in shit like this it makes me feel bad for him.
I already told her Adrian Brodys' nose is in two new movies. One with Anakin Skywalker and another with Jackie Chan and John Cusack. Both look terrible though.

How did a guy go from The Pianist to direct to video shit so fast? He was cool in Predators, and he is amazing in Wes Anderson films but in shit like this it makes me feel bad for him.
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12:18PM on 07/21/2015

Brody looks to be going full on Cage..

Yikes
Yikes
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10:31AM on 07/21/2015
"Most viewers will likely be drawn in by the presence of stars Hayden Christensen and Adrien Brody..."
We live in a world in which that sentence has been written. I'm just quite amused by this.
"Most viewers will likely be drawn in by the presence of stars Hayden Christensen and Adrien Brody..."
We live in a world in which that sentence has been written. I'm just quite amused by this.
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+1
11:56PM on 07/20/2015
Can someone please explain to me what the fuck happened to Mr. Brody? The dude's a fuckin' Oscar winner for Kriste sakes! Jeez! What happened to you?! Fire your agent already! Seriously though... Does anyone know where he went wrong? Was it a particular role? Does he owe the IRS for backed taxes? Is he broke? Does he have some serious addiction? Is he difficult to work with? The man is seriously talented. I really want to know where he went wrong. This is just unacceptable.
Can someone please explain to me what the fuck happened to Mr. Brody? The dude's a fuckin' Oscar winner for Kriste sakes! Jeez! What happened to you?! Fire your agent already! Seriously though... Does anyone know where he went wrong? Was it a particular role? Does he owe the IRS for backed taxes? Is he broke? Does he have some serious addiction? Is he difficult to work with? The man is seriously talented. I really want to know where he went wrong. This is just unacceptable.
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4:27AM on 07/21/2015
good question, very good question !
What drives you from an oscar to shitty VOD movies nobody gives a shit for [link]
I am pretty sure one of the reasons you said is probably the good one... Money probably, and Hollywood is a bitch too, if you are not in a success at least every 2-3 years, you are not interesting anymore, that's cruel !
good question, very good question !
What drives you from an oscar to shitty VOD movies nobody gives a shit for [link]
I am pretty sure one of the reasons you said is probably the good one... Money probably, and Hollywood is a bitch too, if you are not in a success at least every 2-3 years, you are not interesting anymore, that's cruel !
7:37AM on 07/21/2015
i was actually scrolling down to the comments to post the exact same question - what the fuck happened to Adrien Brody? Guess you beat me to it. Earning an Oscar for one of Polanski's best movies to staring in DTV crap like this. At least guys like Cusack and Willis delivered decades of solid work before paying the bills with similar pedigree. Brody just peaked and collapsed within a millisecond. Its a shame.
i was actually scrolling down to the comments to post the exact same question - what the fuck happened to Adrien Brody? Guess you beat me to it. Earning an Oscar for one of Polanski's best movies to staring in DTV crap like this. At least guys like Cusack and Willis delivered decades of solid work before paying the bills with similar pedigree. Brody just peaked and collapsed within a millisecond. Its a shame.
7:38AM on 07/21/2015
Add John Cusack and Cuba Gooding, Jr. into this movie would be an ideal movie for Hollywood wash-ups. I really don't know what happens to these great actors, especially John Cusack.
Add John Cusack and Cuba Gooding, Jr. into this movie would be an ideal movie for Hollywood wash-ups. I really don't know what happens to these great actors, especially John Cusack.
8:41AM on 07/21/2015
Cusack is an anomaly. At least he seems to be going in waves. He'll do a bunch of bullshit movies, then he does one or two really decent movies, then it's back to a stream of bullshit again.

But Cuba Gooding Jr. should be far more relevant presence in Hollywood. And I get the feeling Brody's career went off the rails because he started making attempts to be an action star when he's far more suited to drama. It seems like that's all he's been chasing since King Kong.

Either way, HBO
Cusack is an anomaly. At least he seems to be going in waves. He'll do a bunch of bullshit movies, then he does one or two really decent movies, then it's back to a stream of bullshit again.

But Cuba Gooding Jr. should be far more relevant presence in Hollywood. And I get the feeling Brody's career went off the rails because he started making attempts to be an action star when he's far more suited to drama. It seems like that's all he's been chasing since King Kong.

Either way, HBO should put Cuba and Brody as partners in season 3 of True Detective. These guys need a career revitalization.
9:16AM on 07/21/2015
@MickLoud maybe 'American Crime Story' as O.J. is going to be Gooding Jr's second wind. Like you said, TV has been doing wonders for wash-up's. Still can't be too surprised about his career, you should never go full retard: [link]
@MickLoud maybe 'American Crime Story' as O.J. is going to be Gooding Jr's second wind. Like you said, TV has been doing wonders for wash-up's. Still can't be too surprised about his career, you should never go full retard: [link]
4:04PM on 07/21/2015
Brody had a tough time following up The Pianist, too. He's a heck of an actor, and was on the cusp of some sort of breakout since the '90s. But he doesn't look like a leading man, so Hollywood's been reluctant to give him those kinds of roles. As long as Wes Anderson keeps him as part of his repertory though, we ought to see Brody not completely disappear.
Brody had a tough time following up The Pianist, too. He's a heck of an actor, and was on the cusp of some sort of breakout since the '90s. But he doesn't look like a leading man, so Hollywood's been reluctant to give him those kinds of roles. As long as Wes Anderson keeps him as part of his repertory though, we ought to see Brody not completely disappear.
4:48PM on 07/21/2015
@HoyleHaw... But that's the thing though... He could have gone the same route many before him and many after him have gone. He could have gone the Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar Isaac route. He doesn't have to be Brad Pitt, or Leo or Tom. All he had to do was choose his roles and scripts very very wisely after that. That's it. It works for all those great actors. It could have worked for him. In the end I blame his agent and his very own poor judgement on picking roles.
@HoyleHaw... But that's the thing though... He could have gone the same route many before him and many after him have gone. He could have gone the Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar Isaac route. He doesn't have to be Brad Pitt, or Leo or Tom. All he had to do was choose his roles and scripts very very wisely after that. That's it. It works for all those great actors. It could have worked for him. In the end I blame his agent and his very own poor judgement on picking roles.
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