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When a movie finally hits North American DVD more than four years after it was playing the festival circuit ... you're probably looking at a pretty bad movie. But in the case of Sorted, you're looking at a bad pretty movie. The flick's got energy and style to spare, but very little in the brain and logic departments.
Carl is a country-bumpkinish young lawyer who must travel into London to straighten out the affairs of his recently-demised brother. As he begins to dig through poor Justin's apartment, Carl meets up with his brother's old girlfriend, and he's forced to share the tragic news. Sunny is a painfully gorgeous and rather demure ex-model who, after she regains her composure, informs Carl that his (now dead) brother was really into the London rave scene. Like, a whole lot.
So Carl and Sunny head off to the nearest nightclub, where they hope to find some information regarding why (and how) Justin dropped from the roof of a rather tall building. Several colorful characters pop up almost immediately, from the sex kitten Tiffany to a likable little lug who sells hardcore drugs to the raver crowds. Ah, but there's a seamy underbelly to this raucous lifestyle, and that underbelly goes by the name of Damian Kemp. (You can tell he's the villain because his name is Damian.)
Suffice to say that Carl keeps on digging into back rooms and basements where he doesn't belong, and he's in store for a long trip laden with drugs, dancing, drugs, sexy women, and a lot more drugs. And then there's Damian, pimping and killing and plotting and scheming...
Basically, Sorted is one of the most obvious and familiar "thriller" concepts you've ever seen (over 100 times), only this time the plot is jammed down into Rave Culture territory. This approach allows the world's oldest "who killed my brother?" potboiler to earn a fresh coat of paint for the counter-culture movie fans who just can't get enough of flicks like Groove, Human Traffic, and the first ten minutes of Blade.
And the gimmick works -- if only on the surface. Director Alex Jovy clearly has an eye for color and composition, and his numerous "offbeat" editing techniques help to keep his story chugging along with very little wind resistance, but there's also that pesky problem of a screenplay. And "screenplay" is where Sorted hits a snag.
First off, Carl goes from an intelligent and "clean" young man into a ravenous drug-vacuum with no warning whatsoever. One minute he's all "no thanks, can't do drugs, lemme ask you about my dead brother," and the next he's sniffing coke off a new buddy's hand as they wait in traffic. It's a jarring character reversal, and therefore you'll have a hard time buying anything that comes later. And let's just say that what comes later is an all-night showing of Tim Curry's Scenery-Chewing Theater!
I don't like to knock Tim Curry. Really. Between Clue and Legend and The Rocky Horror Picture Show ... well, suffice to say I consider Tim Curry a character actor demigod. Even his humiliating performance in Charlie's Angels couldn't change my opinion of Tim Curry, so it's not likely that his howlingly off-kilter performance in Sorted will do the trick either. As the outrageously evil Damian Kemp, Curry goes so far overboard you'll think you wandered into a broad farce not unlike Airplane! or Scary Movie. (And I'm pretty sure that's not what Mr. Jovy was going for.) Kemp forces his raver-chick henchwomen to get all sexy with each other, he injects his enemies with poisonous hallucinogens, he carries a little cane with which to bash the nearest flunky, and easily 75% of his spoken dialogue consists of Shakespearean sonnets. No lie, even if Sorted were the worst movie I'd seen in years, it would still be worth seeing if only to witness the sheer force of nature that is Tim Curry, Overactor.
Other performers fare considerably better: Matthew Rhys does a fine job in the lead role, especially when you consider how many bizarre character contradictions he's forced to deal with. The seriously beautiful Sienna Guillory is the absolute highlight of the film, bringing a sweetness and vulnerability to a movie that all but sweats with cynicism and malice. Sienna's only American movie so far has been Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and I can only hope that didn't sour her on Hollywood forever.
To those who are always on the lookout for the next (inevitably DTV) title that sheds a little light on the soon-to-be-extinct Rave Culture, I could offer Sorted a minor recommendation -- but only because the movie is fairly stylish and packed to the gills with strobe lights, dance music, and Ecstasy. But to the plain-old movie fans who might be expecting something a little bit unique or challenging from this particular crime thriller, I'd say give it a pass.
Video: Ardustry Entertainment gave Sorted a fairly sparkling Widescreen transfer, which helps to showcase the movie's visual energy in several specific sequences.
Audio: The technical specs are also quite impressive on the aural end of the spectrum. Choose to thump your speakers via Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0. Both sound great, but there's a lot of loud music in this flick, so watch those volume levels.
Extras: A collection of trailers for this and a few other Ardustry releases: Sorted, The Falls, Inheritance, Mafioso: The Father, The Son & Potluck.
Despite the fact that much of this Sorted story is something you can easily find in any random episode of CSI, there's just enough slick & sleek enthusiasm to keep this movie from ever becoming boring. But once you peel away the seamy nightclub setting, all you're left with is a standard "search for clues" narrative -- and a Tim Curry performance that'll have you holding your sides in hilarity.