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SIN (director/writer: Michael Stevens; screenwriter: Tim Willocks; cinematographer: Zoran Popovic; editor: Suzanne Fenn; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: Ving Rhames (Eddie Burns), Gary Oldman (Charlie Strom), Brian Cox (Captain Oakes), Bill Sage (Cal Brody), Kerry Washington (Kassie), Chris Spencer (Vincent Peavey), Alicia Coppola (Bella), Gregg Henry (Conrad); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: David Leyrer/Michael Stevens/Tim Willocks; Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment; 2003)
“A bleak crime thriller that sinks in its own quicksand.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bleak crime thriller that sinks in its own quicksand. It’s a weakly directed revenge tale by Michael Stevens (grandson of director George Stevens), and co-written by him and Tim Willocks. It’s a made-for-cable TV feature (it was never released in theaters). Its cheesy B-film story is set in modern Reno. The film is beset with stilted dialogue, a tired story, schematic action scenes, a questionable moral compass and uninspired acting (even from the noted headliners). The clumsily made el cheapo production never felt in sync. The tagline for Sin might be “You sin, you got to pay,” which serves better as an ad for a perfume product than any biblical allusions the film tried to attach to the narrative.

After 15 years of service on the Reno police force, the hard-boiled Eddie Burns (Ving Rhames) is a retired cop due to a disability (he lost a portion of his arm on duty). When Eddie’s younger sister Kassie is kidnapped, gang raped, drugged with heroin and brutally beaten by a drug dealer and porno producer, Eddie goes on a one-man crusade after the gang.

Charlie Strom (Gary Oldman) is a psychopath subjecting Kassie to torture to get even with her older brother for something he did in the past. He calls to harass Eddie with verbal digs at him being a cripple and sends a videotape of Kassie being viciously abused. Eddie gets help from his former police colleague Lt. Cal Brody (Bill Sage) and junkie snitch Conrad in tracking down Charlie. Brian Cox has an insignificant part as the police captain, who is around to tell Eddie to let the police handle this matter.

This humorless and displeasing film builds to the eventual confrontation between baddie Charlie and guilt-ridden Eddie. By the conclusion we will find out why Charlie is so keen on exposing Eddie for his past sin and why he seeks vengeance to redeem a supposed wrong.

The film turns on Oldman’s by now familiar sicko villain routine and Rhames as the unflinching macho man with the surprisingly tender heart. If you’re fans of these talented actors, you might want to catch the flick just to see them get chewed apart by the lousy script. The film is also not helped by the turn off sleazy porn scenes, the illogical actions of the characters and the way the story is presented in such a confusing manner that it made me wonder if this really was the final draft.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”