Sep 112002
Authors: Eric Todd Patton

Long Beach, New York is considered the ‘City By the Sea;’ and this former vacation paradise is now a stomping ground for drug dealers and the addicts that keep them in business.

It is here that a young addict, Joey LaMarca (played by James Franco), meets with ‘Picasso,’ a drug dealer who doesn’t allow for any funny business during deals. In the heat of an attack and acting in self-defense, Joey uses ‘Picasso’s’ own knife to kill him. This begins Robert DeNiro’s latest release.

New York City detective Vincent LaMarca (played by Robert DeNiro) is assigned to the case and as the clues unfold he finds that his son, one he hasn’t seen in fifteen years due to an ugly divorce, is the prime suspect. He pleads with Joey’s mother to convince Joey to turn himself in to Vincent if she sees him, but she is still hostile over the divorce that occurred two decades before.

But from one murder comes another, this time it is a cop shot in a bloody mix-up and again the force looks to Joey as the prime suspect.

In order to clear his son and to confront the demons that reside within him, Vincent follows trails of friends and foes of his son and in an edge-of-your seat climax, he finally decides what is best for his son.

The acting is sublime by both DeNiro and Franco; and it seems very appropriate to have such a movie released this week, especially given my other article. One year ago we most likely wouldn’t have had a film showing the ugliest parts of New York with all of its drug addiction and corruption. We definitely wouldn’t have seen a film one year ago with scenes of killing New York police officers.

The success of this film, or just this film being released, proves the mentions in my other article today.

However, on a critical standpoint, the direction by Michael Canton-Jones is lethargic, moving along like a sloth. The script itself needs work. At a certain point it seems that nobody has anything to say unless it is in regard to Vincent dealing with his father. The script is tedious and sadly; it makes one hour and forty-five minutes seem like three hours.

But the ending is one of the best performances of DeNiro’s career.

It is a story of redemption and of how it most often takes a tragedy to get us to realize what we have and what is valuable in our lives. With the conflict of bad script and direction with incredible acting by the two leads, it leads a critic to stick the film with a C.

Suggestions with Robert DeNiro; “The Godfather Part II,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Deer Hunter,” “Analyze This,” “Meet the Parents,” “Heat,” “Sleepers,” “The Score,” “Men of Honor,” “Jackie Brown,” Guilty By Suspicion,” “Ronin,” “Mad Dog and Glory,” “The Bronx Tale,” “Backdraft,” “Cape Fear,” “We’re No Angles,” “Midnight Run,” “Once Upon A Time In America,” “The Untouchables,” “Taxi Driver.”

Suggestions with James Franco; “Spider-Man.”

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