An impressionable teen flirts with the knowledge that he may have the genes of a thief in THE MAKER. The criminal seduction of innocence has been more chillingly delineated in AT CLOSE RANGE (1986) and more colorfully acted in TRAVELLER (1997). Erring on the side of artiness, THE MAKER
overworks its nihilistic philosophizing for an audience that's already seen better versions of this blood-is-thicker-than-water morality play.
Adopted many years ago into a loving home after the death of his parents, teenager Josh Minell (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) wins a college scholarship with little effort and spends his spare time getting high with pals. His bright future is interrupted by the reappearance of his big brother Walter
(Matthew Modine), an ex-con. Having bided his time until Josh was old enough to become an accomplice, Walter preys on Josh's rebellious curiosity. Not only does he involve Josh in a moving van scam fronted by his accomplice Felice (Jesse Borrego), but Walter also reveals that their real parents
were murdered because their papa was a welshing felon. Having grown up believing they died in a car accident, Josh now wonders whether he has inherited lawbreaking genes.
Walter cuts his fence Skarny (Michael Madsen) out of a deal involving the hijacking of a heart for an illegal donor. During the aftermath of this hospital heist, Felice and another member of Walter's gang are massacred in a parking garage by Skarney's crew; Walter is seriously wounded. Although
unable to kill the wounded Skarny, Josh does remove his money belt. Skarny pursues Josh and dying Walter to the Minnell home. Cornered in the garage, Josh pretends to be dead. With a gun positioned in the sleeve of deceased Walter's jacket, Josh guns down Skarny. The cops arrive; Josh allows
himself to be viewed as an innocent bystander and turns his back on Walter's bloody legacy.
Visually inventive, THE MAKER is a superficially compelling film that adds nothing new to the environment-vs.-heredity debate. Skimming over Josh's dilemma, the screenplay never allows us to anguish with this callow protagonist over his attraction to a get-rich-quick lifestyle. Instead, it wastes
our time with a subplot about Josh's crush on a female cop. What partially redeems the film are two superlatively directed action sequences. The first involves a stolen furniture van stalled on a hill in full view of a curious patrolman. Even more dynamic is the parking garage ambush. Fitfully
coming to life, THE MAKER makes its presence felt as a heist caper but doesn't measure up as a meditation on crime as a family business worth deserting. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: An impressionable teen flirts with the knowledge that he may have the genes of a thief in THE MAKER. The criminal seduction of innocence has been more chillingly delineated in AT CLOSE RANGE (1986) and more colorfully acted in TRAVELLER (1997). Erring on t… (more)