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GET CARTER

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Leigh Cook, Mickey Rourke, Michael Caine
Director: Stephen Kay
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: Commentary, Deleted Scenes, 2 Theatrical Trailers
Length: 103 Minutes
Release Date: February 13, 2001

Film **

Get Carter does have several things going for it. It has a good sense of style, it is very well directed, and features a nicely tuned performance from Sylvester Stallone, who ever since his knockout work in Cop Land, has been much wiser in the scripts he takes. Although Get Carter wonít rank as one of the actorís better movies, Stalloneís performance is one of its redeeming qualities. What Get Carter suffers from is its plot, which is essentially one-note even in attempts to provide numerous plot twists in noir-like form. The film is a remake of a 1971 British cult classic, which I never saw, but from what Iíve been told, the only major difference between the two versions is the setting. Other than that, not a whole lot was changed. My instincts tell me that the early version is easily better than the remake, which is the case with most remakes. Even if this was not a remake, the release of the movie is pure bad timing after such better revenge thrillers as Payback and The Limey.

Stallone plays Jack Carter, a mob enforcer working in Las Vegas who is about to engage on a personal vendetta. Jackís brother, Ritchie has just died in a supposed drunk driving accident, but Jack doesnít buy it for a second. He sneaks off to Seattle to attend the funeral, as well as gather some information of events leading to his brotherís death. Jackís sister in law (Miranda Richardson) isnít pleased to see him, since he never came around to visit much. Jackís niece, Doreen (Rachel Leigh Cook), strikes a chord with Jack, and the two become instantly close. Of the people he comes across in Seattle, there are two in particular who make Jack very suspicious: a slimy computer entrepreneur (Alan Cumming) and an Internet porn distributor (Mickey Rourke). Carter immediately suspects the two of serious foul play.

Thatís the basic premise of the movie, aside from some inane subplots involving Jackís employerís hunting him down and advising him to return to Vegas immediately. Michael Caine, who portrayed Carter in the original version, appears in a small role that is completely inexplicable to the rest of the movie, even though his character serves one of the filmís more uninspiring twists. The few action scenes of the movie are very well staged and executed, and are backed up by a nice techno soundtrack. The problem is these action scenes donít add up to a whole lot. There are a couple of car chases, and the other scenes involve Jack punching another guyís lights out. The director of the movie, Stephen Kay, delivers a very intriguing visual style to the movie, and if it were not for that element, the movie would end up a lot more flat than it already is. Kay uses several editing gimmicks that do catch you by surprise and do help in maintaining interest in an otherwise uninvolving movie.

To sum it up, Get Carter is nothing more than a case of an unnecessary remake. I do give Stallone credit for playing a character with much more depth than what heís used to playing, and director Stephen Kay strikes me as a filmmaker that is likely to hit it big one day, as soon as he finds a movie where he can apply his unique visual style to a much better script. Get Carter has all the appropriate icing ready to put on the cake, but the cake is nowhere to be seen.

Video ***1/2

Another satisfying video job from Warner Bros. The movie is presented in an anamorphically enhanced widescreen presentation, and apart from a couple of scenes, which appeared a little too soft, the picture is fluently crisp and clear for its entire presentation. Given the movies nice visual look, the DVD format offers it to look even more appealing.

Audio ***1/2

The feedback is the same for the audio presentation. Get Carter is given a boost of 5.1 Dolby Digital, which provides a nice kick to the filmís booming soundtrack, and its moments of loud action. The transfer excels especially in its last half, which includes a scene in a dance club where the music is picked up perfectly, making it sound as if your living room has turned into a nightclub.

Features **1/2

Not exactly the best use of extras, but certainly not the worst either. Featured on the disc is a commentary by director Stephen Kay, a deleted scenes compilation, and trailers for both this version and the 1971 version.

Summary:

Get Carter features a good look to it, and some good performances, but suffers from a lack of a gripping story that is necessary for a film that is about revenge. Your best bet is to check out either The Limey or Payback, which were both much better.