|Cast||Michael Jai White|
|Executive Producer||Barr Potter|
|Production Designer||Michael Novotny|
Being an old crook isn't easy. You get shot at, beaten up, and generally abused. It's not like the old days. There isn't even any honor among thieves anymore.
Harvey Keitel gives a masterful performance as middle-aged criminal Roy Egan in the crime drama CITY OF INDUSTRY. First-time writer Ken Solarz's script connects all the dots with a standard formula plot, but Keitel's acting raises the movie above its pedestrian material. Director John Irvin, known for such light-hearted films as A MONTH BY THE LAKE and WIDOW'S PEAK, is smart enough to fashion the picture around Keitel and let him set the pace.
Lee Egan, played with restraint by Timothy Hutton, wants to pull off a big jewel robbery in Palm Springs. He has been casing a jewelry store where once a year they have two to three million dollars in stones from Russia. To pull it off, he asks his brother and old-pro criminal Roy to come to town to join his gang for the big heist.
Jorge Montana (Wade Dominguez) and Skip Kovic (Stephen Dorff) make up the rest of Lee's team. Calm and resolute Jorge needs the money for his wife Rachel (Famke Janssen) and their kids since Jorge has just been sentenced to prison. Skip, "the wheelman," seems ready to explode in every scene. Dorff, who overacted in his most recent outing in BLOOD AND WINE, gives a little more credible performance this time.
Most of the show, which happens after the jewel theft, consists of an elaborate cat-and-mouse game with Roy and Skip chasing each other. Although predictable on a macro level, the actions in any given scene are apt to surprise you. Still, the overall feeling is that you have seen this story many times before.
So what is compelling enough to make the picture worth seeing? Harvey Keitel. His studied and careful acting make for some captivating viewing. Although he seems about to ignite and does in many scenes, nevertheless, his is a controlled burn. Just the way his eyes scan a room speaks more than the dialog. Although Roy is a brutish killer, Keitel manages to earn the audience's empathy. His resilience after being left for dead almost elicits applauds.
The picture undulates with a gritty melancholy. Thomas Burstyn's dark cinematography, although effective, has been done before by others and done better. Stephen Endelman's music, with various solo instruments wailing away, sets a soulful and sad tone.
Although quite a violent film, CITY OF INDUSTRY derives most of its tension from the mental anguish of its stars. An unimaginative but interesting film with one excellent piece of acting. Some stars are enough to make the difference. Keitel alone makes CITY OF INDUSTRY worth seeing.
CITY OF INDUSTRY runs 1:37. It is rated R for gory violence, nudity and profanity. The film would be fine for older teenagers. For Keitel's work, I give the picture thumbs up and ** 1/2.