Things to do in Denver When You Are Dead 6/10
Things to do in Denver When You Are Dead (R) 1995
Reviewer’s Tilt (9)
Special DVD Features worth a look-None
Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg and director Gary Fleder deliver this interesting precursor to more recent breaknecks like Pulp Fiction and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. These guys have the right idea, but just miss the mark. The story begins with Jimmy the Saint (Andy Garcia), a reformed mobster, starting a business that videotapes dying peoples’ advice to their heirs. Jimmy, having shed his mobster skin, is trying to make it as an honest businessman in this struggling new venture. His troubles compound when he becomes indebted to Denver’s ruthless, but paraplegic mob boss (Christopher Walken). The boss wants Jimmy to “scare” a kid into not marrying the boss’ son’s former girlfriend. As an additional incentive, the boss offers Jimmy $50K for this “action.”
Initially reluctant, Jimmy sees this as an opportunity to dig himself out of a hole. And hey, nobody gets hurt. Jimmy take the job and rounds up his old crew. The crew, Pieces, a porno projectionist with leprosy (Chistopher Lloyd), Critical Bill a psychotic funeral home worker (Treat Williams), Franchise a blue color family man (William Forsythe), and Easy Wind, the tempered muscle (Bill Nunn) concoct and execute a detailed plan. When details get left out, however, the crew finds themselves on Mr. Mob Boss’ caca list, with reservations in the fish berth. Feeling guilty for drawing them into this sad state of affairs, Jimmy tries to make it right. What Jimmy does not see, is that he cannot make it right, for any of them, ever again. When Jimmy realizes how thouroughly he has screwed things up for everyone around him, including his girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar), he enlists an old friend (Fairuza Balk) to help him wipe the slate clean and start a new life.
Jack Warden plays an ex-mobster watching the action and acting as your humble narrator. Christopher Walken and the fine actors in Jimmy’s crew do an incredible job creating memorable characters. Warden’s character, however, is distracting and unnecessary. Andy Garcia also falls somewhat short, gliding through, rather than carrying, his scenes. Granted, it is not an insubstantial task to carry scenes with these great actors, but a dose of charisma and grit in the title role would have made the difference between a good film and a great film.
Format: Color, Widescreen anamorphic, Closed captioned.
Sound: (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Extras: Making-Of Featurette, trailer(s)