Hey, you ever see that movie about the colorful gang of British criminals who set up an elaborate and profitable heist, only to see the entire scheme degenerate into a bullet-strewn, profanity-laced, corpse-laden fiasco of monumental proportions?
Oh, you have? Well ... here's another one.
From Antonia Bird, director of the rather good Priest and the even better Ravenous comes yet another entry into the British Bullets & Bungles category: Face. (Apparently "face" is slang for "criminal," so there's your explanation regarding the title.)
The plot in a nutshell: Five low-rent criminals decide to hold up some sort of money-counting facility. The heist, for the most part, goes off pretty well. But after the crooks split up their booty and head home for the evening, everything goes chaotic. Each of the thieves wake up to find their money missing and, in some cases, a few dead bodies littered about. The bulk of the flick consists of the knuckleheads as they try and figure out what the hell happened. Needless to say there's a lot of frustration and mistrust being tossed around.
So it all sounds fairly conventional and familiar, but between Ms. Bird's crisp and efficient directorial style and a solid handful of excellent performances, Face turns out to be a more than watchable affair -- given you already have a taste for the Brit Crime sub-genre.
Front and center is the frequent collaborator of the director's, Robert Carlyle, as Ray, the head criminal (and the only one with half a brain). The always memorable Ray Winstone is on hand as Ray's blustery partner-in-crime, and the truly lovely Lena Headey gets to play the "potential redemption" doll-baby, and does a darn fine job of it. Steven Waddington is quite excellent as the quite "slow" Stevie, while a guy called Philip Davis practically steals the whole movie, playing a short-fused bi-polar nutjob called Julian. (Don't call him Julie, trust me.)
Perhaps a bit longer than it really needs to be and framed with a flashback gimmick that adds absolutely nothing to the movie, Face had me a little skeptical at the beginning, but the flick coasts along at an appreciable clip, and it's fronted by a half-dozen really enjoyable performances.
Video: The New Line film is presented by Image Entertainment in its original widescreen (anamorphic, 1.78:1) format. Picture quality is quite good, with strong colors and fleshy flesh-tones, and all that jazz.
Audio: It's Dolby Digital mono, but the flick sounds pretty darn sweet to me. Check out the no-dialogue track for an example. One minor annoyance is the lack of any English subtitles. This flick is packed with fast-talking Brits and frequent slang, and I really could have used the subtitle track to help me along the way.
Extras: Just the theatrical trailer for Face, and the option to watch the movie with a music and effects-only track.
This one might not be among the very slickest or most unique British caper flicks to come down the pike in the last several years, but there's more than enough here to keep fans of the formula entertained. It's well-lensed, full of great tunes, laden with strong performances, and peppered with just a few nifty surprises.