Cut Throat City – Rated R – 132 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Sunday August 23, 2020
Regal 16 Cinemas – Lacey, Washington
#29 new movie seen in theaters in 2020
A young father, James, is getting married, wants to be a graphic novel artist and Hurricane Katrina is about to strike. He doesn’t get the artist job and is facing severe money problems. His three friends are in no better shape and in addition, the hurricane has put most of the Ninth Ward where they live underwater and in peril.
The foursome hatches a plan to turn to crime, by taking a job sponsored by James wife’s Cousin Bass that’s a warlord. They attempt to rob a casino and the plan leads to a gunfight and finding one of the three dead. To make matters worse, the amount of money reported stolen is much higher than the actual amount leading Cousin Bass to believe they shorted him. The trio must now figure out how to make the cousin whole and avoid being captured by a detective put on the case to find the robbers.
There are multiple storylines running. FEMA is doing a poor job taking care of the impacted people, a politician wants those who ripped off the casino to pay, a higher level warlord known as The Saint (Terrence Howard) blends guns, drugs and faith. Keeping all these active plot threads in your head is a bit cumbersome at times, not to mention figuring out who bad, really bad and good. There’s some convoluted roles to sort out.
The run time is more than a little tedious at 132 minutes. With all the different plot threads and character development it supports being over two hours, but the director must come from the school of “longer movies are better” which is not one I subscribe to. I’m in favor of shorter is better, unless it’s justified. I think part of the justification here is fleshing out multiple characters and having multiple subplots, but I’m not sure the story really needed it, since the main character is James. If we focused on him, his family, his trials and tribulations, that could have been done in 90 minutes or less.
And then there’s the whole political aspect involving FEMA. That could — and probably should — have been a miniseries or movie all its own. Anybody who followed the news knows how screwed up FEMA was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I’m not sure this film, with all the other elements in play, could get into that enough to tell that story too
The most troubling part — the one we’re most criticizing — for Kara and I was the ending. Since this is a spoiler-free review, we can’t get deep into the details, but there seems like two different endings, as if it’s left for the viewer to decide which one works best(?). You can hear Kara and I discussing this ending confusion in our no spoilers review below.
This is a very odd way to end a film. Neither of us could figure out which ending was the de facto ending. If you know which ending is right, save that for our critique post where we have spoilers and we’ll discuss in more depth.
The acting is good, although I was a bit saddened to see a senior citizen Wesley Snipes puffing on a Sherlock Holmes pipe. He plays James’ dad, who is roughing it out in the woods, somewhat estranged from his family. There is yet another plot thread.
Cinematography, sounds, action are all average. I think the script and direction — cloudy as it seems at times — is the biggest issue keeping this from being just a mostly entertaining film. Kara felt it was three stars, I was thinking more like 2.5, but we’ll leave it at 3 stars with an asterisk for recommendation. We would suggest waiting for this to appear on streaming vs. seeing it in the theaters.
Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️