The Box

  • 2003
  • Movie
  • R
  • Action, Crime, Drama

This no-way-out drama fills the bill as a lean-mean vehicle for its scriptwriter-star, James Russo. Having paid his debt to society, parolee Frank Miles (Russo) intends to straighten up and fly right — That is, if his former associate, Michael Dickerson (Jon Polito), forks over the $200,000 he owes the ex-con. By day, Frank toils as a lowly mechanic;...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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This no-way-out drama fills the bill as a lean-mean vehicle for its scriptwriter-star, James Russo. Having paid his debt to society, parolee Frank Miles (Russo) intends to straighten up and fly right — That is, if his former associate, Michael Dickerson (Jon Polito), forks over the $200,000 he owes the ex-con. By day, Frank toils as a lowly mechanic; by night, he pesters Dickerson for his nest egg. As he buys time by stonewalling Frank, Dickerson orders a hit on his old partner. Frank, who's smitten with a waitress named Dora (Theresa Russell), just wants to claim what's his and set up housekeeping. Instead, he has foils assassins and slay Dickerson in self-defense. For his troubles, Frank lifts a measly $2000 from Dickerson's safe. With homicide cops sniffing around, Frank knows he should lie low. But Dora is a dame with a past; her proprietary ex-husband, Jake Ragna (Steve Railsback), insists she keep bartending for him at his strip club. When he's not browbeating Dora into servitude, Jake has the temerity to rip off two crooked cops, Detectives Stafford (Michael Rooker) and Miller (John Snyder). As fate boxes him in, Frank has a fatal dust-up with Ragna. Dora, cleaning up the homicide scene, stumbles upon the cache of loot Jake had stolen off the cops. Hell-bent on retrieving their ill-gotten gain, the bent detectives murder Frank's best friend, Stan (Brad Dourif), and kidnap Dora as collateral. Having veered so far from his retirement plan, Frank ponders the high cost of hanging onto the disputed fortune. With precision, Russo models his screenplay after classics of French fatalism like LE JOUR SE LEVE (1939) and spurs his journeyman director, Richard Pepin, to step up in class belying the film's direct-to-video provenance. The B-movie dream-cast brings Russo's hermetically sealed crime world to life.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This no-way-out drama fills the bill as a lean-mean vehicle for its scriptwriter-star, James Russo. Having paid his debt to society, parolee Frank Miles (Russo) intends to straighten up and fly right — That is, if his former associate, Michael Dickers… (more)

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