SCENES OF THE CRIME (director/writer: Dominque Forma; screenwriters: Amit Mehta/Daniel Golka; cinematographer: James Bagdonus; editor: Sid Levin; music: Christopher Young; cast: Jon Abrahams (Lenny Burroughs), Jeff Bridges (Jimmy Berg), Peter Greene (Rick Woods), Noah Wyle(Seth), Morris Chestnut (Raymond), Madchen Amick (Carmen), R. Lee Ermey (Senile old man), Bob Gunton (Steven Wayne), Brian Goodman (Trevor Morrison), Amy Zorek (Theresa), Mizuo Peck(Sharon), Justin Louis (Louis), Nicholas Gonzalez (Marty), Jack Forbes (Tow Truck Driver); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Marc Frydman/Rod Lurie/Willie Baer/Deborah Lee; Columbia Tri-Star; 2001-Germany/USA)
“A sizzler that someone like Sam Peckinpah would probably give his stamp of approval.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
French music video director Dominique Forma’s debut feature urban crime drama is a sizzler that someone like Sam Peckinpah would probably give his stamp of approval.The thriller is co-written by the director, Amit Mehta and Daniel Golka. Forma like the film’s protagonist pays homage to Steve McQueen’s Bullitt (1968) and the filmmaker gives the film a menacing Sixties gangster flavoring. It’s supposedly based on a true story, but has the feel of fiction.
The amiable Lenny Burroughs (Jon Abrahams) is set to marry his pretty sweetheart Sharon (Mizuo Peck) shortly. He’s an enterprising grease monkey, with ambitions to open his own auto mechanic shop. For some extra cash and a chance of rubbing shoulders with a local mobster he idolizes, the lad sometimes does chauffeur duty for small fry tough-guy mobster Rick Woods (Peter Greene)–one of his regular clients in his workplace garage. Lenny skips his own bachelor party to drive the thug on an errand that winds up unbeknownst to him in the bloody kidnapping of soft-spoken mobster big-shot Jimmy Berg (Jeff Bridges). After Rick talks by cell phone with his mob boss Trevor Morrison (Brian Goodman), he’s told to hold Jimmy hostage until he works out a financial deal with Jimmy’s mob partner Steven Wayne (Bob Gunton). But when Rick steps out of the van that’s holding Jimmy, he’s run down by Wayne’s goons. This leaves the inexperienced Lenny holding a gun on Jimmy while he’s bound in the back of the parked van and receiving orders on the cell phone from his new boss Morrison, while surrounded in the street corner by a bunch of Wayne’s mob enforcers who are led by the wily and sinister Seth (Noah Wyle). The green kid is clueless as to what’s going down, but realizes his life has changed forever as he’s caught in the middle of a mafia gang fight and doesn’t know which side to trust. But he learns on the fly to trust his gut feelings and is willing to take risks to make sure he comes out of this situation alive.
The film’s innocent but not so innocent ‘everyman’ main character, Lenny, is in over his head, and how he deals with this explosive situation and the ensuing double-crosses and the questions of loyalty among the mobsters and twists in the plot is handled in a chillingly entertaining way. Its life lessons advocate that if ‘no pain there’s no gain.’ The pic’s an undiscovered gem in the gangster genre, with convincing and tight performances all around. Too bad it never got an audience and the studio released it in America as a straight to cable movie.
REVIEWED ON 5/31/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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