Get Carter [1971]

Director: Stephen Kay
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, John C. McGinley, Rachael Leigh Cook, Mickey Rourke
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 112 minutes

The original Get Carter (1971), directed by Croupier's Mike Hodges, starred Michael Caine as Jack Carter, a mob enforcer who returns to his hometown after the suspicious death of his brother. The plot had a breezy, improvised feel and Caine was fantastic, an amoral man who would sleep with any girl or torture any guy to get what he wants. In this American remake, Sylvester Stallone plays a sanitized version of Jack Carter, a guy who is violent but ultimately moral. It doesn't work nearly as well. The whole movie seems like it's been crafted around the Stallone persona, which gives it a manufactured rather than spontaneous feel. Admittedly, that is not helped by the film-school pyrotechnics of director Stephen Kay, who fills the frame with so much unnecessary camera movement that it really feels like he spent more time setting up the camera shots than he did on the script. Moving the story from a small town north of London to Seattle works better because of the subplot concerning Internet porn, of which Seattle is a virtual hotbed. The downside is that it allows for Alan Cumming's portrayal of a Bill Gates-like billionaire as a near-retarded boy-child. Other actors fare better with their roles, particularly Rachel Leigh Cook and Mickey Rourke, though Michael Caine's presence only serves to draw unfair comparisons to the original. That said, if you watch both versions you will learn more about the state of Hollywood at the turn of the millennium than with a year's subscription to Variety. --Andy Spletzer

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