Monday, December 28, 2009

Wrong Turn at Tahoe: Grade C

Wrong Turn at Tahoe (2009)
Cuba Gooding, Jr., Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Keitel; Director Franck Khalfoun.

This is a nice, average gangster movie, well photographed, well-paced, tightly directed, with dialog that is direct and free of most clich├ęs. Gooding collects debts for a violent and psychopathic drug lord (Ferrer), who kills (beats to death with a baseball bat) a lieutenant of an opposing drug lord who is even more lordly (Keitel). So the war is on. Plenty of gun battles and a high body count are in the offing.

Keitel gives a good portrayal of decadent, still vicious, but slightly burned out elder gangster, but there is little trace of the intensity we enjoyed in Pulp Fiction or Cop Town. He is 75 years old now, so we should be happy he is still working. Gooding is maturing nicely, both physically and as an actor. His character has a tiny bit of depth.

It’s an unimaginative, typical crime drama, but remarkable for avoiding the usual stupidities, such as gratuitous car chases and building explosions. The sets are well done, especially the pseudo-opulence of Keitel’s palace, which is humorous in its own right for its ironic specification of an owner who has more money than taste. Music is inoffensive. In fact the whole movie, despite the blood and violence, could be described as inoffensive.

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