Dirty Deeds (2002)

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 05/12/04 20:06:31

"Heavy on the style, light on the substance. Fun throughout."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Take a healthy dose of Quentin Tarantino, mix it with a few generous portions of Guy Ritchie, add a dash of Norman Jewison, and cook the whole thing on an Australian barbecue. The resulting concoction is the plainly familiar yet still quite tasty "Dirty Deeds", courtesy of the clearly "inspired" writer/director David Caesar.

The setting is 1960's Sydney and the rascally Barry Ryan runs a rather profitable slot machine racket, a scenario sent into serious disarray with the arrival of a few low-rent thugs from America.

Heists piles upon twists with double-crosses as Caesar employs a jump-cut narrative and frequent flourishes of whirly-bird camera techniques. Colorful characters pour out of the woodwork, all of whom speak in the brisk, slang-laden style so popular in today's crime movies. Dirty Deeds may not be anything new, but it sure isn't boring either.

Lead Bryan Brown (F/X) is clearly in his element as a sleazy shark, and he receives capable support from the likes of John Goodman (as an affable mafia henchman), Toni Collette (as Ryan's no-bullshit spouse) and the always slick Sam Neill as a devious cop on the take.

Though perhaps a bit too overstuffed for such familiar fare, Dirty Deeds succeeds through sheer force of quirk and a seemingly endless supply of hyper-kinetic energy. Caesar does manage to go overboard from time to time (what's with the poop gags?) and perhaps 'borrows' a bit too much from his crime-time inspirations, but the end result is a fun little movie that works mainly because it never slows down.

At least the crime-flick retreads from across the pond are a vast improvement over the crime-flick retreads we get from the local guys.

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