Thursday, December 8, 2005

What Is Your Life Worth?

Porter knows his worth. $70,000. That is the amount that his erstwhile partner, who now works for the syndicate, stole after double crossing and leaving him for dead. And that is the amount Porter wants back. No more, no less. He will do whatever it takes to get it.

So begins the grittiest movie I have ever seen Mel Gibson in. The director said that he wanted to make a movie in which the protagonist was a bad guy who didn't make excuses. He certainly achieved that. Porter is the anti-heroes "hero" so to speak, a guy who has only one goal and only one redeeming quality, which is his love for Rosie, the requisite hooker with a heart of gold. I suppose he actually could have two redeeming qualities, the second being his stubborn determination to take only the money that was stolen from him. One of the elements that becomes a comic refrain is as he works his way up the chain of command at the syndicate people repeatedly say, "You're doing all this for $140,000?" Porter disgustedly corrects them, "$70,000." And the other bad guys have even less to redeem them.

One of the interesting elements of this movie is that the "bad guys" (which would be everyone) all assume that Porter must have a fairly sophisticated approach hidden behind his tough-guy front. No. What you see is what you get. And when they get used to the idea that Porter is very direct then they assume that he isn't smart. Wrong again. Part of the fun is watching them react to those realizations.

This normally is the sort of movie that we never would enjoy. Tom started watching after happening upon Rose watching it for a school assignment (more in a different post about why Rose was watching an extremely violent, "R"-rated movie for school) and got hooked by the old-style detective narration and film noir atmosphere. We watched the whole thing that evening and by the end were amazed that we watched it ... and loved it. The only conclusion that we could come to is that Mel Gibson pulled it off. He somehow invests his character with a touch of lightness without ever breaking out of character.

HC Rating: **** 9 Thumbs Up!

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