Opening in limited release on December 9th and then available on DVD and Blu-Ray December 20th, Catch .44 is a fast-paced action drama starring Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, and Malin Akerman. I’ve never even heard about this movie but hell, Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker with guns? Well yippee-ki-yay, that’s good enough for me!
So without knowing anything more about the film, I sat down to check it out: There’s Bruce Willis being all Bruce Willis. (Awesome.) Cut to: Malin Akerman driving. (She looks worried.) Cut to: a diner. Oh, there’s Malin again with two other women having some long-winded debate about the word “compromise.” (Huh?) Suddenly, it’s a hold-up in the diner! Surf guitar! And shooting!! And lots of blood! I’ve seen this before.
I didn’t know this was a Tarantino film! Cool!
Wait, it’s not?
Let’s back up.
Catch .44 tells the story of three gun-slinging chicks attempting to carry out a mission to intercept a drug shipment for their skeevy crimelord boss Mel (Willis). We learn Mel’s Angels severely botched their last job so while lead girl Tes (Akerman) trusts Mel and figures the seemingly easy job is his way of getting the girls back on track, Kara (Niki Reed) is suspicious of his motives. Dawn (True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll) tries to keep the peace between the girls by telling jokes involving nuns and penises.
Meanwhile, there’s this Ronny guy (Whitaker), who trolls the country where old men should not be, shooting his way through while trailing the girls.
Everything eventually comes together to a big bloody head in, you guessed it, the diner.
If I have to toast something, I guess 31 year-old writer/director Aaron Harvey deserves some props for somehow not only managing to get this movie made at all despite only having one other credit to his name (some 2007 direct-to-DVD horror movie called The Evil Woods–wow this guy and his clever movie titles!), but getting A-list superstars Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker to star in it. How this is possible, I have no idea, but I suspect he has some dirt on somebody. That’s the only possible explanation. So good for you Aaron Harvey!
I’ll also raise my glass to the cast, who play along and do their best with the material, most notably Akerman and Whitaker. They each play against type and are pretty badass in their roles. Plus, both have really cool eyes, in different ways.
If I wasn’t clear enough earlier, this film is a Quentin Tarantino ripoff. Many films have been accused of this, but I can’t imagine any other being more blatantly guilty than this one. Close your eyes and you can actually see a first-year film-school student sitting in his Reservoir Dogs poster-covered dorm room typing an entire page of dialogue into Final Draft. All the elements are there: the music, the non-linear storytelling, the “snappy” profanity-ridden dialogue, the hipster graphics, the bloody shootouts, the wacky bad guy dancing, Bruce Willis… But of course, it’s a pale knock-off.
Canal Street Tarantino.
You’re probably thinking, aw, maybe the guy was inspired and is paying homage. How bad could it possibly be?
Here is a transcript of actual dialogue in the movie of a disgruntled strip club patron (you know there’s a strip club. Because, BOOBIES!):
“I wouldn’t fuck any of these chicks with your dick. I’m getting herpes just looking at these chicks. Now, I don’t know what kind of chicks you’re into, but I got a stack of hundreds burning a hole in my pocket and I’d rather let my pants flambe my fucking cock off than to let any of these trailer rats go anywhere near my dick….I’M SERIOUS FUCKER!”
Makes “Royale with cheese” sound almost Shakespearean.
SPOILER ALERT: Once the film shifts to the back-story of Forest Whitaker’s character, we learn that he is actually Tony Montana! This had to be a major selling point for Forest to sign on (in addition to the paycheck) because he’s clearly having a blast doing the funny accent. You can hear it in the trailer at about the 1:27 mark, however if you are still planning to watch the movie, I’d advise against it because it contains actual spoilers.
Oh man, as if this mess needed anything more, there’s an out of nowhere paradox-creating reference to Bruce Willis’ alter-ego Bruno. It’s obviously meant as a “clever” in-joke because Bruce himself is, you know, kind of in this movie for three scenes.
Oh wait, you don’t know who Bruno is?
Catch .44 is a perfect example of When Bad Movies Happen to Good Actors. It’s as if someone took every Tarantino movie, Charlie’s Angels, No Country For Old Men, and a screenplay written by a 14 year-old boy and threw them in a blender, hit puree, then took the mixture out, poured it in a pan, coated it with cheese, and half-baked it. Watch Pulp Fiction again instead.
“You’ll understand someday Malin; sometimes actors just need an easy paycheck.”
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time the diner scene is repeated.
Take a Drink: every time Tes chews on a toothpick.
Take a Drink: every time Mel eats a pecan.
Take a Drink: every time someone gets shot.
Take a Drink: at the Return of Bruno.
Take a Drink: every time you imagine Quentin Tarantino watching this film and doing this:
Last Call: There’s a pointless scene about a minute into the credits. I’m guessing it’s because the actor in it demanded more screen time.
Fun Fact: Malin Akerman’s character’s name is Tes. Her character’s name in the Katherine Heigl romantic-comedy 27 Dresses was named Tess. It’s fun to pretend it’s the same character.