The Austin Chronicle

Thieves Quartet

Directed by Joe Chappelle. Starring Phillip Van Lear, Joe Guastaferro, Michele Cole, James “ike” Eichling, Richard Henzel, Jamie Denton.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 7, 1994

Ostensibly a film noir, Chappelle's feature debut borrows heavily from previous heist/crime films (Brando's 1969 The Night of the Following Day was cited by some) and in doing so, comes across as less an original movie than a simple collection of cineaste homages (the press kit goes on to say that “there are probably about 100 different movie homages” in the film). The story revolves around Jimmy Fuqua (Van Lear), a down-on-his-luck carwash attendant and ex-con who reluctantly agrees to assist his friend Art (Guastaferro) in a scheme to kidnap a rich Chicago industrialist's daughter for a $2 million ransom. Also in on the job are Art's sluttish girlfriend, Jessica (Cole), and Quinn (Eichling), a shady, trigger-happy ex-cop. Things start off smoothly for the lowlife quartet as they finalize plans and actually manage to kidnap the heiress without a hitch. But soon, unsurprisingly, all manner of snafus begin to crop up, not the least of which is the rising level of antipathy between Jimmy and Quinn. Jamie Denton has a nice bit as a psycho cop who's more interested in making time with the panicky Jessica than in protecting and serving, but the film eventually bogs down in a mire of predictable crime film clichés. By the end of the first hour, you pretty much know how it's all going to turn out. Chappelle eschews the cinema vérité gore and subliminal ironies of Quentin Tarantino, opting instead for a more linear storyline that, unfortunately, goes nowhere new.

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