Based on pioneer Dashiell Hammett's short story "The House on Turk Street," this jumbled cop-and-robbers flick which received only a cursory theatrical release before going to video & DVD enhances neither Hammett's reputation nor those of veteran director Bob Rafelson, his screenwriters nor the surprisingly distinguished cast. En route to his vacation at a fantasy camp for amateur musicians, police detective and part-time cellist Jack Friar (Samuel L. Jackson) agrees to look for a neighbor's daughter, who's run away with her boyfriend. While poking around an iffy neighborhood in search of the missing girl, Good Samaritan Jack helps Mr. Quarre and his wife (Joss Ackland, Grace Zabriskie) with their groceries. They invite him in for tea and next thing he knows, Jack has been conked on the head and awakens to find himself tied up and held prisoner. The Quarres, it turns out, are part of a gang of robbers led by Tyrone (Stellan Skarsgard) and including Tyrone's moll, Erin (Milla Jovovich), and brain-damaged gunsel Hoop (Doug Hutchinson). Erin, also an amateur musician, sympathizes with Jack's plight but is too afraid of Tyrone to cross him; he once cut off one of her fingers when she attempted to leave him. The captive cop represents a potentially disastrous loose end, but Tyrone has already set a big score in motion and intends to see it through to the end. Erin has seduced a bank officer named David Brewster (Jonathan Higgins) into transferring funds into Tyrone's multiple accounts, but he refuses to hand over his password code until he's reunited with Erin. Tyrone is running out of patience and Hoop exacerbates the situation by murdering the recalcitrant David. Jack, realizing that making himself useful may keep him alive, agrees to chauffeur Tyrone to several banks and then drive him across the Canadian border. That leaves the Quarres out in the cold, which doesn't sit at all well with them. Tangled up in the cross purposes of the double-crossing crooks, Jack must figure out a way to save his own neck and extricate Erin from Tyrone's clutches. Despite Rafelson's reputation among cineastes, his sensibilities don't really jibe with Hammett's Jackson and Jovovich's erotic musical duet seems especially out of place and rather than delivering a bracing dose of hard-boiled criminology, straight-up, he encourages the cast to teeter on a tightrope between camp and seriousness.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: R
- Review: Based on pioneer Dashiell Hammett's short story "The House on Turk Street," this jumbled cop-and-robbers flick which received only a cursory theatrical release before going to video & DVD enhances neither Hammett's reputation nor those of vet… (more)