The film stars Sean Bean (looking so young as to almost be unrecognizable) as Brendan, a young man who responds to a newspaper ad for a cleaning person at a local bar called the Key Club. The owner, Finney (Sting), was looking for a woman, but is convinced to hire Brendan when he shows a little knowledge about jazz music. Through a series of random chance encounters, Brendan also finds himself armed with the knowledge of a plot by American gangster Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones) to strong-arm Finney into giving up the Key Club so that the area can be paved to make way for a shady development deal. On top of that, Brendan has also made a date with a beautiful redhead named Kate (Melanie Griffith), after three chance encounters on the same day. What Brendan doesn't know is that tipping off Finney will put him in Cosmo's crosshairs -- not to mention dating Kate, who is Cosmo's on-and-off girlfriend.
For the first hour or so, one of the things that's most impresssive about Stormy Monday is Figgis' quiet efficiency. All things considered, bringing each of these elements together naturally -- Brendan, Finney, Cosmo, Kate, and the two thugs that Cosmo has hired that Brendan happens to overhear -- is a complicated task, but you'd never know it watching the film, which finds deft but simple ways to bring characters together (for instance, Brendan dropping one of Finney's bands off at a hotel where Kate is meeting Cosmo, or the two thugs eating at the same restaurant where Kate works part-time). Even something as seemingly inconsequential as a traffic jam that the thugs have to sit through is establishing multiple details that will become relevant later in the film. Figgis' economy extends to geography -- Brendan can walk from the Key Club to Finney's other club around the block, and there's a bar across the street where Brendan and Kate have a nice date and a dance while Brendan waits to tip Finney off about the thugs.
Within this tight structure, Figgis also subverts expectations wherever possible. Whether it's something as silly as Finney's Polish jazz band being unexpectedly hired to fill in at Cosmo's big "America Week" ball, or the outcome of Brendan tipping Finney off about his would-be assailants, Stormy Monday feels more grounded than one generally expects from a film thriller. Although the movie does slowly build to some wild twists and turns, Figgis makes left turns at tension, away from shootouts and ultimatums. Late in the movie, Cosmo and Finney finally meet face-to-face, and the resulting conversation may prompt the viewer to reconsider their overall view of Finney, only for Figgis to twist it again at another climactic moment. Figgis also takes his time developing the relationship between Brendan and Kate, allowing it to progress more naturally. There is even a scene, as unpleasant as it is, where both Brendan and Kate are assaulted by Cosmo's thugs. It's weird thinking of the bruises on Kate's face for the rest of the film as a positive, but it is representative of Figgis' more realistic approach.
Where Stormy Monday falters is mostly in terms of pacing. Although one section in the middle where Brendan and Kate follow the Polish jazz band to a Polish festival will ultimately play a role in the film's climax, it's the one scene where there isn't another obvious ball in the air (Brendan and Kate's previous date has Brendan waiting to inform Finney about what he's overheard). The film builds to a climax that will likely be considered somewhat unsatisfying by many, even though it's in keeping with the subversion Figgis has already established. Taken as a whole, Stormy Monday's flaw is that it's more memorable for what it isn't than what it is, although perhaps modern fans discovering it now on Arrow's Blu-ray as a retrospective curiosity will find that more satisfying, in and of itself, than it may have been when it was new.
The Video and Audio
An original theatrical trailer is also included.