Friday, March 25, 2011

Film Friday: The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Can a movie be too intelligent? Not really. But it can try too hard to seem intelligent. That’s the case with The Spanish Prisoner. Written and directed by David Mamet, The Spanish Prisoner has many of the hallmarks of great films: intelligent plot, fascinating twists and turns, smart dialog, and an interesting atmosphere or mood. It also has staying power, as it’s on television all the time and I find myself drawn to it. I like this film a lot, but I can’t call it a great film because Mamet tries too hard to prove he's clever.

** spoiler alert **

Without spoiling too much, The Spanish Prisoner involves a confidence game. It centers around Joe Ross (Campbell Scott), an engineer who has invented a secret process that is about to make his company rich. As the story opens, we learn that Ross’s boss Mr. Klein (Ben Gazzara) is talking to wealthy investors about backing the company’s new invention. At the same time, Joe starts to realize that he has no protection should the company claim the invention and stiff him. His attempts to get such protection place him in an adversarial position vis-à-vis his company. While this is going on, Joe runs into a mysterious man named Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin). Dell is a wealthy man who befriends Joe and starts to advise him regarding the issues with his company. Beyond this set up, all I will say is that Joe soon finds himself way out of his league as various people around him may or may not be trying to manipulate him, and he has no idea who he can trust.

I really do enjoy this film, but it also disappoints me every time I watch it. What bothers me is not the story or the characters, but a dozen small moments in the film. And what each of these moments has in common is they try too hard to prove how smart the film is:

The Macguffin
Right out of the gates we’re presented with the Macguffin. This is a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock to mean the object/thing that drives the plot and motivates the characters' actions, i.e. what the characters want -- like a necklace in a robbery story or papers in a spy story. But there's an interesting aspect to the Macguffin, which is that it's also irrelevant what it actually is. In other words, the necklace could just as easily be a diamond, a work of art or a pile of money. This realization has led some of the more clever filmmakers to play around with the Macguffin. A perfect example of this comes from Pulp Fiction, where the characters are chasing a briefcase that shines gold when it opens. Despite this titillating clue, we never do find out what's inside the briefcase because Tarantino is intentionally teasing us, knowing that it doesn’t actually matter to the story.

Mamet tries the same thing here by never telling us what this formula is or how much it's worth. Unlike Pulp Fiction however, where this was a clever tease, here it feels more like showing off. For example, Mamet does things like blatantly turning the camera away from a blackboard as the dollar amount is written upon it. And he repeatedly finds ways to highlight that he’s not telling us what the formula is, such as when FBI Agent McClure (Felicity Huffman) makes a huge point of telling Ross not to tell her what the formula is. Once or twice would have been fine, but this quickly becomes like the annoying acquaintance who explains over and over how something they did was clever.
The Dialog
Next comes the dialog. Mamet is famous for his dialog, which is typically an intelligent noir style. Generally, his characters speak in sharp, abrupt, and yet complex sentences that leave important details unsaid and which say something larger about the characters no matter what topic they are discussing. Thus, in Ronin, every word uttered by Robert DeNiro tells us he is a man with vast experience and incredible skills. Mamet’s characters in Glengarry Glen Ross detail their failed lives as they beat around the bush about revenge they'll never take and disguise their real concerns in fake talk of insults to their dignity.

The Spanish Prisoner is different. The dialog used by these characters lacks the depth and vision of Mamet’s other characters. Other than the things they tell us specifically, we know nothing about these people. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem arises when Mamet tries to insert depth by having his characters utter cryptic sounding but entirely ridiculous quotes. “I put a thief in my mouth to steal my brain.” What does this mean? It means he's hung over. When Susan the secretary says “my troika was pursued by wolves,” what do you think she's referring to? Nothing, she's just delivering snacks. The script is littered with these lines. It’s like Mamet sat around coming up with cryptic lines and then dumped them into the dialog at random.

Indeed, with characters passing these kinds of quotes back and forth, none of the relationships seem real. In real life, the most common response to these kinds of lines would have been “huh” rather than the firing back of a counter line. This makes the whole story feel “acted.” And forget emotion because it’s hard to show anger or passion when you speak in sentences like: “beware of all ventures requiring new clothes.” Even characters like the FBI agents speak in riddles when more common word usage would be appropriate. In the end, this feels like Mamet is trying to show us how clever he can be at writing lines, but in the process he fails to write effective dialog.
Arrogant Casting
Finally, we come to the cast. Different issues drive casting. Money plays a big role, as does the desirability of the parts and the tastes of the director. In this instance, however, the casting feels arrogant. I say this because Mamet includes several actors who are playing against type, and it feels like Mamet did this just to prove that he could make it work. For example, Ed O’Neill (Married With Children) is called upon to play an FBI team leader, but he lacks the gravitas to escape his Al Bundy role. Rebecca Pidgeon is cast as Susan Ricci, the secretary/love interest/temptress, a role for which she is entirely unsuited. Felicity Huffman is similarly miscast as an FBI agent. A Japanese actress is cast to play a character with an unbelievable, ultra-heavy Texas accent for no apparent reason.

Steve Martin plays Jimmy Dell. Now, in truth, Martin is brilliant. Prior to this film, I viewed him as a rather poor actor who could only play the “put-upon guy.” Yet here he plays a suave and brilliant businessman, and he does it incredibly well. But his success doesn’t change the fact that like the others, he was cast in a role for which he appears unsuited. It was as if Mamet decided to cast inappropriate actors just to show he had the skill to pull this off. And the problem with this is that several of these people are jarring in the roles they play and that makes them difficult to believe, and I'm constantly left feeling that Mamet is basically telling me how great he is.

Conclusion

Let me stress that you should not read this review as a condemnation. I really like this film and I highly recommend it. But I feel the film artificially limits my ability to love it because of these entirely avoidable flaws. Had Mamet stopped telling me how intelligent he is, then this could have been a great movie. As it is, it’s a good movie which wasted its potential to become a great movie. In fact, it’s probably screaming out for a remake.

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33 comments:

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I always find Mamet works to be intelligent, and I'm looking forward to more from him now that his politics are evolving. But I never watch one of his films unless I'm planning to pay attention and listen carefully. More than most writers, his dialog is indispensable to the plot. And for that reason I found The Spanish Prisoner to be overly prolix. Ordinarily, nearly every word leads to something, but not as much in this film. Like you, I also detected too many "tricks" this time. But also, like you, I saw this as a good film which could have been a great film.

Tennessee Jed said...

I own The Spanish Prisoner and have viewed it numerous times. I should state, off the bat, I have been a Mamet fan for a long time.

In essence, your comments are well taken. Some of the wierd dialog bothered you more than me, but (lol) my inner voice actually voiced "huh?" to some of the quotes mentioned.

As far as casting goes, Martin did a great job. Some of the others didn't bother me as much as it seems to have bothered you. I actually like Rebecca Pigeon, and lord knows, Mamet ALWAYS casts his wives, girlfriends etc. I liked her more in the Winslow Boy, to be sure, but she seems to have a good feel for "Mametian" dialog. Likewise, the "holding back" of what the formula actually entailed, wasn't quite as annoying for me.

This movie, for some reason, reminded me of "The Game" with Michael Douglas. The hoax was so elaborate that there was just a hint of unreality to it. Still, like you, I have no compunction recommending it. Maybe part of that comes from the fact elaborate hoaxes are a film device I thoroughly enjoy.

DUQ said...

Good review. I enjoy this movie very much, too, and I can't help but feel like you're nitpicking a bit, Andrew. ;)

Jed, I agree that Rebecca Pigeon is a good fit in this film. She's a great blend of "the girl next door" and just cute enough. Think about it, Andrew - would it be believable if Sharon Stone were pursuing the little science geek that Ross is?

There are movies where esoteric dialogue works, and this is one of them. It reminds me of The Game, too, and also of Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." Fast pace, have to pay attention, makes you think.

CrispyRice said...

Good movie! I found it really interesting to see the actors in other roles, like Steve Martin in such a serious role. I thought he really rose to the occasion and I liked him.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Same here. I enjoyed it and I thought this was a good film that could have been better, except that he used too many tricks. And tricks is a good word because that's how it feels -- gimmicks, tricks.

I would love to see this one remade with a careful touch!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I have no problems recommending this one either as I think it's truly a neat story and it's a highly enjoyable film. What frustrates me about these issues is that they take me out of the feel of the film and they keep it from hitting that next level. I think this could have been a great film.

My biggest complaint is with the cryptic comments. To me, that's the real problem because it interferes with the characters interrelating and it makes the relationships feel "unreal." If I could only fix one thing, that would be it.

In terms of the actors, I thought Martin was great. When I first saw him show up in the movie, I thought "oh boy, this is about to get stupid" and I half expected him to do his "wild and crazy guys" routine. But he blew me away. I literally left this film wishing that he would do more drama as I thought he was that good.

The problem I have with Pidgeon is that she's not sexual enough to see as a temptress, even though that's largely her role. She's also too smart to be the "dumb secretary" that she plays. But later on, she's too dumb to play the role she plays at the end. I really thought she was poorly cast. And it struck me that her inclusion (despite the wife issue) was Mamet trying to prove he could do something with people who didn't fit the parts -- especially since several of the actors seemed to fall into this category. That said, it bothered me, but I can also overlook it and enjoy the film.

I think your comparison to The Game is a good one, both in terms of the twist and turns of both films and in many ways, the feel. Both films strike me as really good films that left the potential to be great on the table.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I'm nitpicking because the difference between good and great is about nitpicking. I really like this film, but I think that these particular issues held the film back.

In terms of Pidgeon, I would not have preferred Sharon Stone, for the reason you mention -- she would have seemed out of place. But I just don't think Pidgeon does a good job in this film. She's not sexual enough to be taken seriously as a temptress and she's not "normal" enough to be the girl next door. She just comes across as weird.

I loved R&G Are Dead and I agree, you have to pay attention. I love when he makes a paper airplane and it turns out to he an F-14. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Martin truly impressed me. Before this, I saw him as a rather weak comic who could play a pretty limited range in certain kinds of movies. I didn't think he could move beyond that. But he blew me away in this. He turned in such a great performance that I seriously hoped people would start casting him in dramas. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Let me also add, for those who are afraid of Mamet because his characters swear a LOT, this film doesn't do that. There is swearing, but it's nothing like his normal writing.

T_Rav said...

I can honestly say, I have never seen or heard of this film. That's probably a bad thing. So...yeah, carry on.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Check it out, you'll like it. Despite my criticism, I definitely recommend this one.

Ed said...

I liked this film a lot, but like you I have a hard time calling it "great". My problem is the characters feel a little stilted. I'd be up for a remake! Who have you got in mind to replace the actors? I'd hire Steve Martin and Ben Gazzara again. I like Joe too actually.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Some of the reviewers used that word "stilted." I don't quite go that far, I just think there are some problems with some of the lines that interfere with the rest of the dialog.

I haven't thought about recasting, but I'll think about it.

Ed said...

Here's a request, do "Pulp Fiction"!

T_Rav said...

I second Ed!

Doc Whoa said...

Excellent review! I actually liked this better than Glengary because the swearing in that was so over the top. I normally don't care about swearing, but when every other word is "f***" it gets old fast. I vote for Pulp Fiction too.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed & T_Rav, I'll do it either next week or the week after. BS at Big Hollywood listed that one as overrated too. Grrrr.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I don't mind swearing either, but I know what you mean about Glengarry Glen Ross. It really is over the top and I think he could have reduced it. But his dialog was effective.

Ed said...

I'm glad to hear it! At some point, we should send the links to Shapiro so he can learn something! Lol!

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, LOL! Yeah, we'll see.

Tennessee Jed said...

Just had an interesting experience. The Lady Vols vs. Buckeyes was too close for comfort so being superstitious, I pulled out The S.P. since it had probably been at least 5 years since the last screening. Armed with your review, and using English subtitles so I wouldn't miss any dialog, I came to the conclusion that the film was actually even better than remembered.

1) The MacGuffin - you were really bothered by Mamet's not allowing us to know exactly what the process was and how much. I merely saw this a way of reinforcing it was highly technical, highly lucrative, and like any MacGuffin, details are unecessary anyway.

2) The dialog - Most of the weird lines come from either Rebecca Pidgeon's or Steve Martin's characters. In Martin's case, the fact that he is this refined mysterious character lends to a certain amount of forgiveness. A person (in this case a con man) trying to come across that way.

Rebecca Pidgeon - After this latest viewing, I am convinced, more than ever she did an excellent job in this role. Right out of the box, she pursues Joe. He is not a bad looking guy, but nerdy enough to not have a lot going on in that department. Some of her strangest lines, in retrospect, seem to be the kind of lines that might be construed as a smitten secretary trying to sound clever.

Other casting - I think your problems with Ed O'Neill and Felicity Huffman might stem from their being so well known as other characters. Their acting was fine, to me. I would find it easy to believe in today's world, a female agent. In fact, the only thing that bothered me slightly about that whole exchange was that the con being used did not appear to fit the mold of a classic "Spanish Prisoner" con.

This film lost out on the 1998 Edgar Award for screenplays to "Out of Sight" (Solderbergh's adaption of Leonard's novel.) I enjoyed that movie, but only saw it once, and didn't find it near as lasting as Spanish Prisoner

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Interesting. As with all movies, I think reasonable minds and tastes can differ.

Let me stress again that I am not saying this was a bad movie, far from it. I just felt that these were flaws and the movie could have been better if they had been fixed. Clearly you disagree and I can respect that. :-)

I agree with you about Martin's lines. He seems to be coming from a completely different world than Joe and so it fits that he says these kinds of strange things. I had a bigger problem with Pidgeon in particular, and just a sense an overall sense that too many people were using lines that felt scripted rather than natural. I can accept one "poet" among the characters, but too many starts to become unreal.

My biggest issue with Pidgeon was that she was so flat and played one tone throughout. I never bought her as being able to attract Joe -- she strikes me as too strange for straightlaced guy like Joe to be interested, and indeed he seems to see her as an annoyance more than someone to lust after. And then later on, she seems too calm to be believable when Joe is in trouble, and finally too indifferent to her fate. I would think someone talented enough to be part of what is going on would be a better actor for Joe's sake. (Trying not to say too much.)

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
My issue with Huffman isn't that she's a women, I've got no problem there -- in fact, Dana Scully on the X-Files was a very believable agent (so was Jody Foster in Silence of the Lambs). My issue was the way she played the part. She never struck me as someone who had gone through the kind of training the FBI requires. It's hard to put my finger on exactly, but she seemed too flippant about everything.

Ed O'Neill, yeah, I couldn't stop seeing him as Al Bundy.

In terms of the the Macguffin, I thought the blackboard scene itself was clever. But it just struck me that he keeps going back to it over and over, telling us that he won't tell us what the process is. To me, it felt like he kept saying "see, I don't have to tell you." That's a minor point, but combined with my thoughts on the rest, it all came together to feel like Mamet was playing around too much.

I can see where you disagree and I suspect you're not alone. I can respect that. I'll check it out again a couple weeks and see if maybe I'm overstating this. But keep in mind, once again, I am not saying any of this made it a bad movie -- far from it. I'm just saying this is what kept it from creeping into the "great" category in my mind.

(P.S. I really liked Out of Sight, but only because of the chemistry between Clooney and Lopez. The story itself was only ok.)

Tennessee Jed said...

Nah, Andrew, I don't think we actually disagree so much. As you pointed out, the difference between great and good can comedown to nitpicking. Of course when one is detailing those nitpicks, they cannot help but come across as more important than perhaps they actually are. If they had really bothered you that much, you wouldn't have liked the movie as much as you do. I was just happy to have a chance to go back and see for myself while your thoughts were fresh, since it had been awhile. I was slightly surprised because I assumed they would bother me more now than originally. Happily, that didn't happen.

As far as Huffman, don't forget she isn't playing an FBI agent; rather a con person playing an agent. No wonder she didn't get it exact :D As far as Pidgeon, yeah we probably disagree. I do find that many people actually speak flat and in one dimension. That was actually the first time I had seen her, and have to say I found her credible. Remember, Joe is not really attracted to her until she is his only ally and he has no where else to turn. Given he must be on emotional overload by this time, it is no wonder he finally kisses her.

Of course, that disagreement is the beauty of the arts. We can talk about objective standards that might form the basis of why we like or don't like something, but in the end, there will always be a degree of subjectivity. It wouldn't be much fun if that wasn't the case.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I couldn't agree more. If we all liked the exact same things, then there wouldn't be much point to art. And interestingly, one of the things I do enjoy a lot in films and books and the such is seeing something I thought I wouldn't like that I actually do end up liking a lot -- Steve Martin's performance for example. If you had asked me before this film "should we cast him?" I would have said no way unless you were remaking The Jerk. But this movie really opened my eyes to his ability and that was a real joy to watch.

You might be right about Huffman, that she's not playing it 100% straight as an FBI agent, so maybe she's intentionally adding some "error" in her role?

On Joe/Susan, I had an interesting thought last night. Although she does play the role of temptress, she actually comes at it from an odd perspective. Many of her comments indicate that she's trying to get him to play the White Knight, so much of what she says is aimed at trying to make him think that she needs rescuing. I need to go back and watch this again and see if maybe I've misinterpreted exactly what her role was?

Tennessee Jed said...

Yes, "the boy scout" is the term she uses. Interesting thought about Susan Ricci. I figured Gazarra hired Martin and his cracker jack "con" team. I thought her role was to throw herself at him. If that worked, they may have even used a totally different game than the "Spanish Prisoner." If not, she was really doing a semi-long con to get him to trust her and believe she would do virtually anything for him. She sets up the Huffman "con" by hinting "people are not what they seem." In the end, she comes across as very, very cold. Proving just how good a job she did in conning him. Almost a hint of craziness in there. Ha!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's interesting, I'd never thought that Gazzara hired Martin! I always thought Martin worked for the Japanese competitors and their job was to infiltrate and steal the process, and they saw Joe as the weak link.

I'm going to have to take a look at this film again in depth. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I should have put spoiler alerts on some of these last few comments we are having about this film. Maybe you can do so by inserting them above.

Mr. Klein (Gazarra) is revealed as the villain at the very end of the movie. The "process" has been sold to the Swiss, and Martin's take alone is worth $100,000 million so the viewer finally understands just how enormous the stakes are. The use of Jaapanese U.S. Treasury agents is a device by Mamet for one last twist where Joe, and presumably the viewer, think that the two are actually working for the Japanese consortium. I do agree, having her (the tranquilizing dart shooter) use an American cowgirl accent, while intended as one last joke underscoring the "nobody is what they seem" theme, comes across as sort of corny or lame.

The nature of Klein's job is skillfully used to help sew misdirection. I'd have to carefully review the opening meeting. Are these investors or buyers? What is the actual structure of the firm? The viewer is sort of given the impression that it is totally Klein's company. And yet, when Joe asks about his own share, Klein pleads that he has no control and is in the same boat himself. Since Klein is behind it all, however, there can be no doubt that he actually is only an employee (albeit a key one) who would gain vastly more money by "stealing" the process from the company and framing Joe than he would in compensation from "the company."

The last dialog involving Susan and Joe underscores just how cold she really is. She completely gained his confidence, but let's him know it was merely a supreme acting job. She taunts him with irony as she asks if he can help her out, while she must fully realize there would be nothing he could do even if he chose to. To his credit, he gives it back to her in spades "You're going to have to stay in your room for a long time."

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Sadly, I can't insert spoiler warnings -- Google doesn't give us that kind of power. But hopefully, people will know from the warning in the article that there could be spoilers here.


She was definitely cold blooded, look at the what happened at the airport. That's extremely cold blooded. Plus her "kill him" was said entirely without remorse or conscience.

I hate to admit it, but I never put together that Gazzara wasn't the owner. I took it at face value when he says that "this was my retirement" and he implies that the company was entirely his. But you're right, he seems to say at the beginning that there is an owner or board and he has no say over what is going to happen.

Ok, now I need to watch this again and look a little deeper. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Sorry to keep working this film, but I managed to get engaged in a "fresh look." There is no question this is a two pronged con. First the Spanish Prisoner con is designed to "steal" the formula. (this is why it isn't a "classic" S.P. where the mark willingly forks up something of value.) Second, it is then necessary to frame Joe in order to protect the real thief, Mr. Klein.

I watched the first several scenes again and determined it is definitely a large conglomerate. The other people involved in the opening meeting were defintely senior officers (not board members), wheas Klein is definitely something like a profit center manager, possibly like a Sr. V.P. That whole Caribbean venture was expertly portrayed (since I lived in a congomerate corporate culture myself.)

Nearly every scene is a foreshadowing of something later on (twice pictures of baggage x-rays at work, the sign "do not accept packages, security tapes, etc.") At least twice, mention is made of Japanese tourists. This is to foreshadow the possibility of the Japanese as the corporate thieves and set up the ending twist. Another is the repeated use of the term "boy scout" coupled with the scount knife used to murder of George Lang.

Pidgeon, plays a typical clerical person brought along to make things run smoothly for the big shots. Her main job is to get Joe to believe she has a crush, and would be 100% loyal to him ("I'm loyal and not too hard to look at.") The con team feels he is such a straight arrow he will reject an "office romance" a necessary rejection to a smooth execution of the con. She also helps set up both Martin and Huffman's con. Much of her early dialog is devoted to that aspect.

Left unexplained is when did the real FBI and Treasury Department become aware? There is some potential for inconsistency if one tries to determine that aspect too closely. I seriously doubt, they would have permitted Lang's murder if they had known Joe was the victim.

Some of the lines you mentioned, in retrospect, became a little more reasoned with subsequent viewing. Yes, Lang is the "clever philosopher" trying to find a catchy way to say, I got drunk at the casino, feel like shit, but BTW, I won a small fortune. That little misdirection actually briefly makes you wonder if Lang isn't part of the scam as well. Martin's comment on money is to help sell the notion he is so rich he doesn't even need to care about money anymore.

If you do re-watch, there is one question I wonder about. Is Pidgeon part of Martin's team or an outsider provided by Klein to manage them? She gives Martin the order to kill, Joe. That is one of those things that is interesting, but not crucial to the story.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks for the thoughts! You've raised some interesting questions that I have to admit I never saw because I believed Klein and Martin to be separate thieves... though it makes a lot more sense if they are working together. Otherwise, the chance that Klein would hire Pidgeon and assign her to Joe and just happen to bring her along to the island meeting starts to seem a little more incredible than if they were working together.

Good question whether she is Martin's boss or the other way around. I will have to pay particular attention to the airport scene where Joe sees her with McClure to see how that one plays out.

Lang is an interesting question too. I was never sure if he was in on it or not. The first time through, I figured he wasn't. I thought he was killed because he was likely to help Joe out of this. But there really is no reason to kill him, as he can't do much of anything to really help Joe. So my next thought was that he was killed just to finish the frame up of Joe. But that too would rely on Joe going to him and grabbing the knife, etc. That's when I started to think that he might be involved in this as well. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he provide several key elements of the frame up, even though they seem like simple kindness when he does them. So I'm leaning toward him being part of it.

I took the island meeting as being Klein and a group of investors, I'll watch more closely and see what develops.

I would think Klein called the FBI once they had framed Joe. He knew he had to do something to through off suspicion and framing Joe would send the FBI in the wrong direction and help provide him with cover.

The foreshadowing is definitely excellent and I think that's required to make a film like this work. The lessor "heist" films often have to hide the ball because their twist is so obvious or generic. But this one does it right by putting it all out there for you if only you can see it. I respect that greatly.

You know, I'm getting really excited about seeing this again. Maybe I'll have to revise my opinion on its greatness? :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Positively last comment by me until you have taken in another viewing. (lol)

1) Klein and the others have to be working together and this is made clear at the end. If not, Klein has no way of getting his own hands on the process. I suppose we cannot be 100% sure of Lang's loyalties, but it still makes most sense that he was murdered to frame Joe and keep him from talking and helping Joe. Lang could have easily confirmed the existence of Martin at the island and helped buttress Joe's story. My only problem was how Joe immediately rushes in and gets Lang's blood all over him. (Stupid!)

The only real issue to me is when did the Treasury Department tip off the real FBI? Given the time frame of events, they would almost have to have known about this one early on. By waiting, they ended up being partially responsible for not preventing Lang's murder. I suspect that is just one of those plot holes that can occur in something this complex, and it is better not to try and over-think it.

Because this is my favorite genre, I had a hard time being totally objective. If not "great" pretty darned close. Perhaps most "under-rated." Anyway, after you have re-watched, let me know what you think! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I will definitely let you know what I think after I watch it. You've given me a new perspective on it that I honestly hadn't thought of before (I got blinded by my first impression) and which might explain some of the things that bothered me.

I don't know how or when the real FBI got involved. I assumed that Klein called them as part of his cover-up, but maybe they were already on the case long before that. So maybe it's just something we never get to see? I'm not sure, but I'll have to watch to see what I can figure out.

I'm undecided on Lang. On the one hand, it seems like he could very easily have been part of this, but they didn't kill any of their members, so why kill him? Plus, he apparently has access to the process too -- or at least enough to be in the room with Joe. So if he was part of this, he probably could have just walked off with it himself? Hmm. I don't know. I'll have to see how much access he really has and what his relationship is with Klein.

I'll check it out and let you know!

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