COLD AROUND THE HEART (director/writer: John Ridley; cinematographer: Malik Hassan Sayeed; editor: Eric L. Beason; music: Mason Daring; cast: David Caruso (Ned Tash), Kelly Lynch (Jude Law), Stacey Dash (Bec Rosenberg), Chris Noth (T), John Spencer (Uncle Mike), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Johnny ‘Cokebottles’ Costello), Richard Kind (Attorney Nabbish), Kirk Baltz (Detective Logan); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Craig Baumgarten/Dan Halsted/Adam J. Merims; 20th Century Fox; 1997)
“This is the kind of bad film that can warm the heart of either a corpse or a woman serial killer.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Novelist John Ridley (Oliver Stone’s U-Turn screenwriter, with Stone the executive producer) makes his directorial debut an inauspicious one in this tawdry thriller that manages to be both boring and loaded down with so many unpleasant characters onscreen at the same time it’s hard to figure who is the most unpleasant. It’s a wannabe neo-noir film that relentlessly blends style and clunky dialogue together as if it doesn’t want to disappoint its B-film viewers in how much trash it can pile up in one film and still have room left for more trash. This is the kind of bad film that can warm the heart of either a corpse or a woman serial killer. It tries to revive the Bonnie and Clyde story for the 90’s, but leaves more than a chill in the air in its attempt at copycat film-making.
It opens with Ned Tash (David Caruso) and his girlfriend crime partner Jude (Kelly Lynch) racing down a desert highway out West with a police car gaining on them when suddenly Ned is sprawled on the highway after being pushed out the door. She escapes and the police place him in a small-city hospital for treatment of minor head injuries, and his obnoxious court-appointed attorney (Richard Kind) tells him that he’s facing charges of armed robbery of a jewelry store and first-degree murder for killing three people in the heist.
The hard-boiled jewel robber who is also in touch with his sensitive side has no trouble escaping from the hospital and seeking revenge goes in pursuit of the double-crosser Jude, who left him to take the murder rap for her killings and ran off with a pouch of jewelry with a street value of $250,000.
After buying a Ford convertible (this will supposedly help the fugitive conceal his identity!) Ned picks up a pretty black teenager, Bec (Stacey Dash), who pulls a gun on him. This is the beginning of a friendship, as the abused child of an alcoholic rapist father is a runaway with a bland personality who opens her heart to the thug after he disarms her. Ned is so taken with her tale of woe, that he will even go as far as kill his best friend Mike (John Spencer) when he tries to rape her.
Meanwhile Jude is somewhere in Arizona and has hooked up with T (Chris Noth), the oafish dim-witted grifter claiming to be an unemployed brewery worker from Milwaukee, she met in a fast food joint, as she waits for Ned to catch up with her.
The remainder of the film has Ned catching up with Jude, which leads to a number of other double-crosses and twists before all the one-dimensional characters settle their affairs in a way that should please those who think such trash is good clean fun. The leads give awful performances, as they show no conviction saying the stale repartee writer Ridley feeds them.
REVIEWED ON 3/2/2009 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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