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Although it gives Willis and Whitaker an off-road chance to show off their character-actor chops, there’s not much to recommend in this cinematic conceit. There’s some fun, cheeky inside stuff – Bruce Willis wailing “Respect” – which might make for hilarity in talent agency screening rooms, but that’s about the most favorable demographic this low-caliber oddity will attract.
Jolting backwards from the bloody finale, Catch .44 plugs away on the lives of three girlfriends who toil at the local strip joint, but are now packing guns and heading out on I-40 to hi-jack a coke deal. These three are no angels, in part because they work for the nefarious Mel (Willis), a drug-lord and opportunistic snotwad.
As they tool the mean back-roads in their nifty Beemer, the three lasses squabble in annoying bad-girl drone. It doesn’t take long for them to meet trouble in the form of a squirrelly murderer (Whitaker) who’s gunned down a state patrolman and shimmied into his uniform.
Ricocheting back and forth between the bloody finale and the backstory of each girlie, Catch .44 is a petite amusement. Since none of the characters are sympathetic, it’s hard to stay focused or involved in this salacious journey.
Overall, filmmaker Aaron Harvey’s neo-nouveau narrative framework caves in and we’re left to the film’s performance curiosities.
Bruce Willis slinks into his slime-ball role with apt flourish. Sauntering around in his oily bathrobe, swigging bourbon and gorging walnuts, he’s amusing and utterly believable. Forest Whitaker hams it up with a crazy backwoods Hispanic speech cadence, which would make him an entertaining party guest. Of the bad girls, Nikki Reed triggers sexuality and bad temper in lethal doses.
The technical contributions are well-wrought, particularly costume designer Johanna Argan‘s aptly peculiar threads for Willis.
Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Market
Production company: Annapurna
Cast: Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, Nikki Reed, Michael Rosenbaum, Brad Dourif, Deborah Ann Wolf, Shea Whigham, Edrick Browne, Jill Stokesberry, Jimmy Lee, Jr.
Director/Screenwriter: Aaron Harvey
Producers: Michael Benaroya, Megan Ellison
Director of photography: Jeff Cutter
Production designer: Gary Frutkoff
Costume designer: Johanna Argan
Editor: Richard Byard
No rating, 108 minutes
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