Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Film Review: American Heist (2014)

American Heist (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the most generic films I've seen in a long time."

When his older brother, Frankie (Adrien Brody), is released from prison, James (Hayden Christensen), a man working to turn his life around, spirals back into a life of crime...

American Heist is a very generic crime film. The film follows James and Frankie. The brothers have a troubled relationship, especially due to a crime the duo committed years ago — Frankie serving ten years, James getting spared with 16 months. Anyway, James is working on getting his life back together when Frankie is released from prison. Of course, Frankie drags his younger brother into a risky scheme — a bank heist. James is reluctant, but his brother's "associates" hold him with few options — basically, help or everyone he loves will die. It's stuff we've seen a million times before, really. The climax, the actual heist, is decent and the ending was okay. The ending was a bit abrupt, though, it almost felt like the writer just got tired and gave up.

American Heist isn't a horrible film. It's actually decently made. The acting is more than serviceable, the climax is exciting, and the ending was decent. Unfortunately, as you can see, most of the good stuff doesn't occur until the final act. The rest of the film suffers greatly from the utterly cliché story. The generic plot does nothing to differentiate itself from other movies in the genre. The characters are cutouts from other films, there is no character development, and most of the film is deprived of suspense. To be blunt, the film is boring — and I feel that's worse than being bad. I mean, a poorly made film can at least be entertaining, whereas a boring film is, well, boring. It's like watching the same heist movie with different actors and, in some cases, less character and charm. It's just so bare-bones and hollow.

The acting is decent, though. There are some minor issues here and there, but I didn't think it was bad. Hayden Christensen is tolerable, but he really lacks conviction and charm. Adrien Brody was good, I felt like he was really immersed in his character. The film looks decent and sounds okay — at times, it kind of just looks and feels like a music video. Writer Raul Inglis pens a dull and uninspired screenplay. Although the structure is fine, the plot is severely lacking in character and originality. Director Sarik Andreasyan knows how to craft a film and he pulled some decent performances from his cast, but he failed to develop a real connection with the audience and the suspense was weak. However, I think Andreasyan has the skill to make a competent film, he just needs to work with better scripts.

Overall, American Heist is a mediocre film. It's a competently-made film with a decent final act and cast. The rest of the film, on the other hand, is boring and uninspired. This is one of the most generic films I've seen in a long time. If you haven't seen many films in the genre, maybe you'll enjoy it a bit more. Otherwise, I can't recommend anything more than a steam on Netflix.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood, some brief sexuality.

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