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The Wrong Man (DVD)

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

Thanks to films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Snatch”, filmmakers like Paul McGuigan (“Wicker Park”) have felt the urge to toss the script and bring in the jigsaw puzzle. You know how it goes – they’ll help you put some of the pieces in place, and then you’ll have to put the rest in yourself.


Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman

Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest in Monte Carlo and came in third,” says Bruce Willis’s character, hired gun Mr.Goodkat, at the start of the film. “That’s a story. This is something else.”

Indeed. Thanks to films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Snatch”, filmmakers like Paul McGuigan (“Wicker Park”) have felt the urge to toss the script and bring in the jigsaw puzzle. You know how it goes – they’ll help you put some of the pieces in place, and then you’ll have to put the rest in yourself.

In the case of “The Wrong Man”, a cocky ensemble thriller that’s part “North by Northwest”, a smidgen “Sin City” and a dash “Snatch”, there’s a couple of pieces left on the floor by film’s end. Where do they fit? Your guess is as good as mine. Would’ve looked much nicer had everything fit more nicely, that’s for sure.

A synopsis doesn’t do a film like this any justice, but let’s scratch the surface all the same: Josh Hartnett plays Slevin, a likeable young chap who – because he’s shacking up at his place – is mistaken for a man named Nick Fisher. The Boss (Morgan Freeman) is owed some big time loot from Fisher, but if he offers to assassinate the son of his rival, The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley), then the debt will be cleared. Thing is, Slevin isn’t Nick Fisher.

Throw in a hyper but likeable neighbour (Lucy Liu), a shadowy hitman (Bruce Willis), and a dogged detective (Stanley Tucci) – and the puzzle starts to form.

Smart, Funny, Imaginative and very, very entertaining. That’s the first two acts of “Wrong”.

Manipulative, Rushed, Unsatisfying. That’s the third act of “Wrong”.

As Meatloaf will attest to though, Two out of three ain’t bad, and it stills means the penned libretto for “Wrong” is light years ahead of most Hollywood yarns.

There are plenty of twists, some delicious character turns, and most of all, some sometimes uproarious, sometimes just damn succulent, pop-culture referenced discourse. Screenwriter Jason Smilovic (who developed the TV series “Karen Sisco”) has a PHD in the channel of communication. It’s obvious. Some of the prattle he hasn’t written into this is brilliant. Better than brilliant. It’s Ice Cream-tasty.

Then, like he hasn’t got a home for all his flaccid plot points, his script quickly comes up with a purported ‘surprise’ ending – which isn’t that surprising – and falls a little flat. All the hard work that had been done in setting up the fantastic scenarios and characters in the first hour or so – is undone. Bummer.

Still, something half as good as, say, “Pulp Fiction” or “Snatch” is still a good film…. better than good. Hopefully this is just writer Smilovic’s warm-up lap.

Well worth a squiz.

Extras include commentaries (one by cast; one by the director), some deleted scenes and a making-of.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

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