The Bag Man (2014)

(Video on Demand, April 2014) One of the strangest aspects of the shift from theaters of video on-demand for smaller movies is that from time to time, some films seem to punch well above their weight when it comes to actors. Here, for instance, we’ve got John Cusack as a remorseful hitman playing off Robert de Niro as a mob boss, with quick roles for Crispin Glover and Dominic Purcell (either of whom could and have carried smaller films on their own). And yet this is a restrained thriller, most of the action being concentrated in one night at an isolated motel. Even the casting may not work entirely at the film’s advantage: While Cusack is up to his usual good-guy role, he is getting a bit old for the young-guy-learns-better arc he usually gets. Meanwhile, de Niro seems once again to coast on a familiar performance (although one that may evoke more Dustin Hoffman than classic de Niro). Rebecca Da Costa seems lost in a role that requires too much of her at this stage in her career (the horrible costume/makeup that opens her performance does her no favours either) and seeing an eccentric performer such as Crispin Glover in such a small role seems like a bit of a waste. The rest of the film is just twisted enough to be interesting, but let’s not pretend that this anything more than a standard B-grade thriller voluntarily set upon a small scale. It’s reasonably enjoyable as such (call it perfect slow-evening fodder when you’ve seen everything else) but the too-big names on the marquee may suggest something more than it is.

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