Nothing's more annoying than settling down for what promises to be a fast-paced crime thriller -- only to discover that the flick you just rented is actually a made-for-TV yawn-fest that you wouldn't even watch for free. Such is the case with Tim Hunter's Kings of South Beach. It's a slick DVD cover in search of something (anything!) exciting. And it doesn't find a whole lot.
Formless and conventional in every imaginable fasion, KOSB stars Jason Gedrick as a semi-slick Miami night-club owner who dabbles in some decidedly illegal activites. Donnie Wahlberg is the sleazebag's right-hand man -- and also an undercover cop who's aiming to bring the whole racket down. From just that simple plot synopsis, you can predict all the key scenes: The tests of loyalty, the cop's struggle to remain noble, the part where we're sure the narc's body-mike will be discovered, and (of course) the patently convenient ending in nothing exciting happens.
One could dismiss the flick as just another half-cooked crime story, were it not for the name of Nicholas Pillegi in the screenwriters' position. This is the author who inspired Goodfellas and Casino for cryin' out loud! Here the writer is peddling little more than flaccid stereotypes and patently predictable plot lines. Gedrick does have a little fun playing a seedy sleazebag, but we've seen Wahlberg play the mono-syllabic cop more than enough times by now.
But the problem isn't the cast; it's the painfully rote screenplay, the paint-by-numbers plot construction and the low-end, network-friendly directorial style. And while Kings of South Beach claims to be based on actual events, I'd contend that those actual events are barely interesting enough to fill a 43-minute episode of Law & Order, let alone a feature-length cable-flick time-waster.
Video: The transfer is anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1), but the visual style is full-bore flat all the way. Colors are generally flat and unimpressive, plus you'll notice a little visual breakdown every time the flick "fades out" (for a commercial break).
Audio: A half-decent DD 5.1 audio track. Slightly better than what you got on television, I suppose. Subtitles in English and French.
Obvious, listless, and completely predictable from start to finish, Kings of South Beach is little more than a very thin retread of several much better crime stories.