TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M.
(director: Kiefer Sutherland; screenwriter: Brad Mirman; cinematographer: Ric Waite; editor: Lawrence Jordan; music: Jude Cole; cast: Vincent Gallo (Ray Lembecke), Mykelti Williamson (Marcus), Kiefer Sutherland (Curtis), Kim Dickens (Addy), Kevin Pollak (Gordon), Grace Phillips (Donna), Max Perlich (Wayne), Rod Steiger (Tony), Martin Sheen (Sir), John C. McGinley (Eddie Grillo); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producers: J. Paul Higgins/Kevin J. Messick/Hilary Wayne; Triumph Films; 1997)
“Both the protagonists and the film are doomed from the start, in this vulgar and mindless action flick.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The directorial debut of actor Kiefer Sutherland, the son of Donald, is less than auspicious as it tells a story that is both a wannabe Pulp Fiction-like part-crime thriller and a wannabe Bonnie and Clyde-like part-Western. Screenwriter Brad Mirman offers up a script even an accomplished director would have more of chance of failing at than succeeding. Both the protagonists and the film are doomed from the start, in this vulgar and mindless action flick.
This cliche movie, of one size to fit all crime adventure stories, is about a bad-assed but sensitive dude named Ray (Vincent Gallo), who gets released from Utah’s state prison and immediately at the prison gate hooks up with his loyal squeeze Addy (Dickens). Ray refused to cut a deal to get a shorter term rather than betray his friend Eddie Grillo (John C. McGinley). But Ray is insulted by Eddie’s ingratitude and decides to pull one last crime before settling down with his honey bunch and living a straight life, a drug heist on his old pal Eddie’s operation. He recruits for the heist the understanding Addy, a former cellmate Curtis (Kiefer Sutherland) and another small-time criminal name Marcus (Mykelti Williamson). Curtis wears red sunglasses and is a gun-crazy psychopath; during the botched drug heist several people are gunned down by him including Eddie and an undercover cop.
The film hits an embarrassing lull when the foursome are scurrying to safety in Mexico by way of Las Vegas, carrying with them a suitcase full of dope. They come upon a yuppie couple, Gordon and Donna (Kevin Pollak and Grace Phillips) picnicking in the desert and kidnap them and hijack their mobile home. As the fugitives discover the sophisticated tastes of their prisoners and the hostage discovers he digs being associated with his gangster captors, there is an incredibly awkward exchange of dialogue to the ridiculous point where Gordon begins parroting Curtis’s absurd rants about how life is just a game of the good guys versus the bad.
Most of the film is played out on the road as the fab four is on-the-run from both the cops and the mobsters to whom the dope belongs.
In cameo roles as a Las Vegas drug lord and a no-nonsense mob enforcer, Rod Steiger and Martin Sheen, ham up their inconsequential scenes to what goes for comic effect.
The title is derived from the name of the real New Mexico town.
REVIEWED ON 2/12/2004 GRADE: C+