By Caitlin Piper
By all means, “The Bag Man” should be an excellent movie. Promising equal doses of action and drama, it features several big-name stars such as John Cusack, Robert De Niro and Crispin Glover.
However, its star-studded cast and interesting premise are weighed down by a lackluster, sometimes unintentionally humorous script.
While it has some well-choreographed action sequences and a few memorable characters, “The Bag Man” is not the action-filled thriller it was advertised as, nor is it the character-driven drama it is trying so hard to be.
“The Bag Man,” which will open at AMC Stonebriar on March 7, follows Jack (Cusack), a thug-for-hire with awful luck and a hidden heart of gold. Paid to retrieve a mysterious bag by the notorious mob boss Dragna (De Niro), he is told to wait out the night in a seedy motel, where Dragna will later meet him to claim the bag.
Over the course of a few hours, Jack is pulled into the lives of several other shady motel guests, particularly that of Rivka (Rebecca Da Costa), a beautiful young woman who loves to ask questions. Receiving explicit instructions to never look inside the bag, Jack anticipates Dragna’s arrival and struggles to survive the night.
“The Bag Man’s” biggest problem is it takes itself far too seriously. While the action scenes are enjoyable and sometimes surprisingly tense, the characters and dialogue are a mess.
Jack is your generic tough guy action movie star who has endured many tragedies in his life, while Rivka is just another piece of scantily clad eye candy with a mysterious past and an exotic accent.
Despite being the lead characters, the two have no chemistry. By the time the credits began to roll, I had wondered why Jack ever decided to pair up with Rivka in the first place, as every moment they share on screen seems to be causing him physical pain.
With the exception of De Niro’s Dragna, who steals every scene he is in, the villains are no better. “The Bag Man” features a dwarf, a bald man with an eye patch and a police station full of giggling and beady-eyed crooked cops as major antagonists.
Half of these characters would be more at home stroking a white cat while they exposit their plot to kill James Bond from within their secret base. The other half wouldn’t make it into a weaker episode of “Law and Order.”
These elements could work if the film wasn’t trying so hard to be an action-filled, dead serious drama.
This, combined with some of the most stilted dialogue I’ve heard in a long time, results in a movie you will be watching only for the fight scenes.