Sunday, July 4, 2021

Movie Reviews: Thick As Thieves

Thick as Thieves
directed by Scott Sanders
This 1999 movie was directed by the same man who went on to direct Black Dynamite which also featured Michael Jai White.
Although the movie is not based on an Elmore Leonard book or a Quentin Tarantino/Guy Ritchie script it definitely is designed to put one in mind of some of the quirkiness often found in some of those creations. 
If you are familiar with movies like Get Shorty or Pulp Fiction, this movie will feel like a slightly toned down version of those films. 
It's not as violent or as explicit as those movies but Thick as Thieves does feature a number of self-consciously idiosyncratic characters, all of whom have their own interests and cool dialogue. If there's one thing that Thick as Thieves wants you to leave knowing, it's that hoodlums are people just like you or anybody else. They have different ambitions, goals, and desires.
This movie also has a few similarities to Michael Mann's Thief
With a few exceptions, this movie is more interested in looking good and finding the humor in outrageous scenarios than in being gritty or scary. This can make some of the violence, then, more shocking, when it does occur. This film tends more towards drama than action.
Mackin (Alec Baldwin) is a Chicago based thief who has something of an independent contractor relationship with the Chicago Outfit. 
He has to kick up something on jobs he pulls in the local area. 
Mackin is a nice guy for a crook. He's a gentleman. We believe this because Mackin is an audiophile who spends a lot of time and money collecting classic jazz and R&B vinyl records. 
Mackin also owns a dog on its last legs. Mackin needs to put his dog to sleep but is doing everything he can to avoid making that final decision. 
Though Mackin is capable of bloody violence, he doesn't like it.
Following the orders of his Outfit handler Sal (David Byrd), Mackin ventures to Detroit to do a job for rising Detroit gangster Pointy Williams (Michael Jai White). 
Pointy is a brash younger man who has his fingers in a lot of pies. Unlike Mackin, Pointy's first choice does tend to be violence. Instead of paying Mackin for his work, Pointy sets Mackin up to be murdered by two corrupt Detroit cops. 

Well this isn't Mackin's first trip to the rodeo. He kills the cops and escapes. Debonair or not though, Mackin's a criminal. 
And the criminal code requires revenge. 
Mackin calls his buddies Rodney (Ricky Harris) and Bo (Bruce Greenwood) for help in making Pointy's life very unpleasant. 
Pointy's number two Dink (Andre Braugher), is far smarter and classier than his boss. He wouldn't have cheated Mackin. The softspoken Dink would prefer to settle this matter quietly so that everyone can save face and live another day. 
Still, Dink is also a gangster, even if he is polite. If someone is bent on confrontation, then Dink can arrange that and more for them. The Detroit police, in the form of Detective Petrone (Rebecca DeMornay) have a very low opinion of cop killers. But Petrone might like Mackin's looks, under different circumstances. 
The police have their eyes on Pointy. And as the Pointy-Mackin feud escalates and attracts media attention, Sal comes under increasing pressure from his Mob bosses to make Mackin stop. Nicely or otherwise. Media and law enforcement interest costs money. It could make people turn rat to avoid prison. Sal's boss is worried about all the noise.
Decent movie with some comedy in some surprising places. I liked the interactions between Braugher and White. White's Pointy is thrifty and environmentally conscious. 
Pointy is smart enough to know how smart he's not but he's not smart enough to think through all of the future consequences of his actions. As he repeatedly tells Dink, that's Dink's job.
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