There has been plenty a time where the draw to watch a movie is not informed by the plot, special effects or supposedly outstanding soundtrack, but because of the downright peculiar alignment of lead actors. Coincidentally, this film does have an outstanding soundtrack, a minor-key and ever so slightly incoherent plot, and not much special effects as its a bleak neo-noir set in dreary old Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and also the directorial debut of Mike Figgis, responsible for brilliances such as Nicolas Cage’s finest hour, Leaving Las Vegas, and the overlooked Internal Affairs, which is the only film I can think of where Richard Gere plays an outright villain and is also the best performance he was ever given (should have played an asshole more often, Dick).
Real-life miserablist Sting (of Police and badly-done world music fame) plays miserable Finney, the owner of a glum Newcastle jazz hangout called The Key Club. Finney has been struggling lately to break even financially, and the strain is taking its toll, as you can see here:
Coming from across the pond to make Finney a bit more sunny side up is America Week, a flashy and tawdry celebration of the U.K. and U.S.’s special relationship, and an opportunity for big Yank money to pour into the ailing local neighbourhood to make it a bit more vibrant and prosperous. One of these investors is a man known as Cosmo, played by god damn Tommy Lee Jones
Although marketed upon initial release as a gangster thriller, I wouldn’t says it entirely accurate to call Cosmo a gangster per se, as he doesn’t deal drugs, run protection rackets, traffic arms, etc., he’s essentially a sociopathic businessman who responds to business refusals with intimidation and violence. And he really wants Finney to accept a fat paycheck to relinquish The Key Club to a land development project. Why he chooses to enforce legitimate enterprise via illegitimate means when he can just go the whole hog and be a full-blown crime boss, I shall never know.
While all of this is kicking off, a subplot is underway involving Finney’s caretaker and protege Brendan, played by Sean Bean (Yes, yes ladies, shut up), and his burgeoning romance with Kate (Melanie Griffith) one of Cosmo’s supposed business affiliates who actually acts as a prostitute in order for him to secure business dealings (Again I reiterate, not really illegal, just rather sleazy and unpleasant)
All in all, this is by no means a great movie, but its pretty good. The leads all do a sterling job, its got excellent tunes courtesy of Otis Redding and B.B. King, and Figgis brilliantly captures the drab, dreary, rain-slicked depression of the Tyne area (sorry Northerners). You’re not really missing out, but its a good little curiosity. 6/10.