Suicide Kings (1997)

(On TV, March 2017) The real treat in Suicide Kings is watching Christopher Walken as a clever mob boss, kidnapped, amputated, slowly dying but able to turn the tables on his naïve young kidnappers. As a Tarantino-inspired crime thriller with a mixture of darkly amusing dialogue and bloody criminal action, it’s a movie of its time, which is to say a quasi-nostalgic throwback for those who haven’t already seen it. Walken is quite good in a quasi-peak performance. Props also go to Johnny Galecki as a young man who gets far more than he expected, and Denis Leary as a loquacious mob enforcer. Unfortunately, while the story of a kidnapping going awry generally work well enough to keep our interest, the overall result does feel underwhelming given the assets at its disposal. Some of the direction doesn’t quite flow, some plot beats make as much sense as a runaway eighteen-wheeler and the dialogue either works or doesn’t. At its best, Suicide Kings is decent methadone for Tarantino withdrawals. (One of the advantages of rediscovering movies that felt tired in their time is that, sometimes, you do want more of the same years later.) At its worst, however, it’s a tired pastiche without much of the flair, wit or pacing of its inspirations.

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