Monday, October 8, 2012

Tries Its Best to Suck You In: "Quicksand" (2004)

The innocent-man-on-the-run plot has been done dozens of times before, and it seems like the cast and crew of this film are acutely aware of this fact.

Martin (Michael Keaton) is a boring bank compliance officer who must investigate an odd transaction made by a film company in the Nice/Monaco area. While there, he meets helpful Lela (Judith Godreche) and mega-action star Jake (Michael Caine) who is busy working on a film. Martin turns down a huge bribe before departing, and then finds himself on the run after goofily being framed for shooting the local corruption-busting chief of police.

Lela is the only person Martin can trust. Back in the States, his secretary (an always good Kathleen Wilhoite) convinces friend and convenient Justice Department official Joe (Xander Berkeley) to go to France and find out just how much merde Martin really is in. After Martin's daughter is kidnapped, Martin turns the tables on crime boss Oleg (Rade Sherbedgia) and his cohorts.

Director Mackenzie and his capable cast don't hide the fact that the audience has been down this road before. Every scene is tinged with familiarity, and the cast gamely goes through the motions. Even the screenplay is lackadaisical. Literally the minute Martin goes into pursued mode, he turns into a crafty action hero. Where did this come from? Are the news reports right? Is he former CIA, or is that part of Oleg's scheme? Caine is lousy as spoiled Jake, the film tries a Hollywood-satiric edge that goes nowhere.

The curiosity innate to this kind of film did get the better of me. I knew where it was going, but I had to see if it would play out the way I thought it would. It did. This has been done before, but it is done well.

With a title like "Quicksand," it would be easy to get flippant and excuse this. However, the inevitable is somehow watchable. A very mild recommendation. (* * *) out of five stars.