Quit While You Are Behind.
I’ve just watched the movie “2:22” and feel compelled to document the experience here. If you’d like the quick review, it’s not worth the time.
The plan was simple, the job was not.
So reads the back of the DVD cover, a slick and professional affair that makes the movie look like everything it is not – well-shot, action-packed, and good. I picked it up in Poundland, figuring that it was worth the risk at that price. In retrospect, naw.
I got a twenty-five minutes into it, watching a jumble of seemingly unconnected scenes, with characters unsympathetic in any respect. This led me to inform the world of Facebook that:
“I’m about a quarter of the way in, and so far it is the worst written, worst cast, and worst acted film I’ve seen in quite some time. One of those films that’s so bad it’s really fucking bad. Part of me wants to quit while I’m behind, part of me hopes it might yet redeem itself by having a decent plot. So far, no discernible plot is apparent. I paid a quid for the DVD, and suspect I was overcharged by 99p.”
The main thrust of the film is that, at 2:22am on 1st January, four robbers loot the safety deposit boxes in a hotel.
– Why that precise time? It is never explained.
– Why are there only two members of staff on? I guess Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is a very quiet time of year for the hospitality industry.
– Why are the streets completely deserted? As we all know, everybody celebrates at midnight, then we’re all in bed by 2am.
The dialogue is clunky, and serves to facilitate and perpetuate a number of tedious cliches.
The main character, Gulli, is sitting alone at a hotel bar. A pretty girl is the only other customer. She’s been stood up, so she comes and sits next to him, saying “Look, I don’t normally do this, I just don’t really feel like being alone right now.”
Her conversation is overly punctuated with the word “cute” – his pet fish is cute, him telling her she has a nice smile is cute. His patter, however, is even worse.
“I’ve been drinking tonic and lime all night. I think I’m going to turn into a tonic and lime.”
He then tells the bartender that he’d like to pay for the tonics and lime, saying “I don’t know how many I’ve had” in a manner that suggests he’s somehow become drunk on them – this combination of water and fruit.
Despite setting an entire scene in a strip club, the only (half) nude shot in the whole film is preceded by one character telling another “Holy fuck, look at those tits.” It feels like they shoehorned brief nudity into a setting that would naturally be populated by naked girls. The “contains strong sex” warning on the back of the DVD cover must therefore allude to the two male characters who portray a TV actor and his oft-berated assistant. A noise complaint comes in from the neighbouring hotel room, and we see that the actor is lying on the bed, in only his underpants, with a ball-gag stuffed in his mouth. The assistant is wearing a black strap-on dildo, standing at the end of the bed and slapping him in the face with it. If this was an attempt at humour, it feels like the only deliberate attempt made. If not, then it is another trite made-to-shock sequence, with little substance.
Gabriel Byrne’s character (his credit is mysteriously missing from the ensemble list of seven names on the cover, despite being one of only two actors pictured there) is the kind of guy who ignores his own anguished child, punches the family dog after calling it to him and feeding it a treat, and later boasts of shooting it in the head. His co-conspirator calls him an animal.
“Are you done?”
“No I’m not done. I’m just getting started.”
Glad they got that hack line in too.
His wife is portrayed by an actress who doubled her screen time by inserting variations of the words “fuck” and “fucking” into her introductory scene.
“Where the fuck are you going?” she asks her ten-year-old son.
“What the fuck is that smell?” she asks her husband.
“Go, leave me alone again on another New Year’s fucking Eve,” she chastises him, before telling her son to “give your fucking father a hug.”
That’s pretty much her sole scene, though, so you can see why she made it last as long as possible.
The girl in the bar, too, doesn’t crop up again anywhere else. It becomes apparent that her estranged husband, the cop, is the guy who winds up investigating the crime. That sounds fine, and Tarantino would have worked it in beautifully if he’d only been involved. Instead, we have two characters who exist entirely seperately and are linked only by that expositional piece of dialogue.
There’s an old man wandering the hotel, contemplating various methods of suicide. He never comes into contact with the main characters, making his presence pointless. If you want to see a number of humorous scenes depicting someone trying several elaborate methods of suicide, go and watch the French-language film Delicatessen. If this guy’s plight is supposed to add weight or poignancy, then it fails completely, because it’s never made clear who he is or why he’s doing this and so you never feel for him.
The hotel is so deserted that the robbers can spend three hours wandering the corridors with guns, drilling the locks out all of the safety deposit boxes behind the front desk, taking hostages on numerous floors, and never get seen or interrupted once. There is initial tension when a phone rings, but this is instantly dissipated when one answers it and pretends to be the reception clerk. That was easy. Some passing cops come to the door, and decide that nothing untoward is happening – that old chestnut. When one of the robbers later gets shot in the shoulder (where else?), he is fine because it’s “only a flesh wound.”
Overall, the film feels like a mish-mash of styles, with some sequences slowed down and some edited like a music video. In the walking-through-the-club-to-pulsating-music-on-the-soundtrack scene, the cuts and delays aren’t even in time with the beat.
In summary, we have a film populated with characters about whom we don’t care; they are staging a heist which goes remarkably smoothly considering all the potential hiccups they encounter; it feels like they left in all the scenes that would ordinarily be deleted in order to move the story forward or because they are irrelevant; equally, it feels that if they HAD deleted such scenes the film would last ten minutes. The acting is universally atrocious, save for Robert Miano’s robber and Val Kilmer’s cameo (both scenes), the plot is as minimal as much of the logic demonstrated throughout, and, having spent 104 minutes watching it followed by time writing this, I’m now going to take my own advice and quit while I’m behind.
In short, if you want to see a film about a seemingly-simple robbery which then goes wrong, with unforgettable characters and situations, with snappy and memorable dialogue, with a fitting and realistic denouement, and which you will happily watch several times over – then invest in Dog Day Afternoon instead.
As for 2:22 – if you see the DVD in the pound shop, leave it there.