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When a drug deal goes sour and an undercover cop is killed, small-time crim Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is told to hide the tell-tale gun. But his neighbour's stepson Oleg (Cameron Bright), a friend of his son Nicky (Alex Neuberger) takes it, with a view to bringing his stepfather Anzor (Karel Roden)'s abuse to an end. However Joey is desperate to find Oleg and the gun; otherwise he and his mobster colleagues can be linked to the dead cop. He also needs to placate his wife Teresa (Vera Farmiga), who wants to support and help both her husband and son.

Review by Louise Keller:
Paul Walker sheds his good guy image playing a tough, petty crim in this gritty, riveting thriller with good narrative, well-drawn characters and enough twists and surprises to keep you nailed to the edge of your seat. The violence is graphic, the language R-rated, the action non-stop, and the film's first 10 minutes has it all. There are undercover cops, a drug bust gone wrong, hot sex on a washing machine and the promise of a chess game of a story that leaps into unexpected places. Walker shows his versatility by creating a well rounded tough character who never shirks from getting bloodied and doing nasty deeds, while at the same time keeping a sense of decency when it comes to his family.

The film begins with the sound of a gunshot, a door opens and Walker's Joey Gazelle, looking worse for wear, is carrying a young boy (Cameron Bright) in his arms. There's a wild car ride in a red convertible before writer director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) takes us back 18 hours prior, allowing us to understand the events and circumstances that bring us to this point. A sharp and economical script plunges us straight into the deep end, as we are witness to a drug bust gone bad. It's a tough neighbourhood and there's no love lost between Joey and his John Wayne-obsessed, violent Russian next door neighbour Anzor (Karel Roden, repulsively excellent), whose stepson Oleg (Bright) is best friends with Joey's son Nicky (Alex Neuberger). It's no surprise that Oleg takes the gun that Joey has been ordered to hide, which is the starting point for an extraordinary tale involving a strip club, a hooker with a vicious pimp, a night-time chase in a carpark and a startling sequence involving sadistic child abuse. The scene when Oleg is taken captive by an unnaturally syrupy couple (Bruce Altman and Elizabeth Mitchell) is both eerie and chilling.

All the performances are superb, with Vera Farmiga solid as Joey's staunchly supportive wife Teresa, and Chazz Palminteri as the twisted Detective Rydell. Bright, whose distinctive face first came into prominence in Godsend and Birth, is terrific as the kid who knows too much but has enough gumption and keeps his wits about him at all times. The relationship between Bright's Oleg and Walker's Joey is as vital to the film, as is Joey's all-important relationship with his wife and family. The surprises never stop coming as every situation spools out of control. Even the morality issue is addressed to our satisfaction with all shades of grey exposed.

There's an audio commentary plus an excellent behind the scenes feature on the DVD including storyboards, and interviews with all the key players. Director Wayne Kramer explains he wanted to go back into the 70s/80s crime drama genre and deliver a film with a bruised quality to reflect the nature of the characters. Like Grimm's fairy tales, the characters have overtly dark qualities. As for the actors.... 'He spread sunshine on set,' says Verga Farmiga of her screen husband Paul Walker. 'He's a good human being,' says Chazz Palminteri and Kramer tells how Walker needed to play a constant level of hysteria. 'I have plenty of energy,' says Walker, 'I'm playing cops and robbers and I love it.'

Published October 18, 2007

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(Germany/US, 2006)

CAST: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palminteri, Karel Roden, Johnny Messner, Ivana Milicevic, Alex Neuberger

PRODUCER: Sammy Lee, Brett Ratner, Mark Williams

DIRECTOR: Wayne Kramer

SCRIPT: Wayne Kramer


EDITOR: Arthur Coburn

MUSIC: Mark Isham


RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 21, 2007

PRESENTATION: widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of documentary; storyboards; commentary; trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 21, 2007

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