BODY COUNT is a derivative straight-to-video heist movie that's as generic and undistinguished as its oft-used title, and is only notable for how it wastes an above-average cast, which includes David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, Ving Rhames, and Forest Whitaker.
Five thieves flee a Boston art museum with $15 million worth of stolen paintings, but their leader Crane (Forest Whitaker) is killed during the getaway. Pike (Ving Rhames) takes charge and leads his cohorts--cool wheelman Hobbs (David Caruso), trigger-happy Chino (John Leguizamo), and Booker
(Donnie Wahlberg)--to Miami to meet Crane's contact. During their car trip, they think back to the robbery. The journey is also fraught with constant arguments and violence: Booker is killed in a fight with Hobbs; Chino shoots a nosy traffic cop, and threatens to kill Hobbs for insulting him.
Later, Chino picks up a girl named Natalie (Linda Fiorentino), whose car has broken down, and she informs Hobbs that she overhead Chino plotting to kill him. Hobbs pulls a gun on Chino, who shoots Hobbs in the arm, and finishes him off at a hotel that night. Chino then comes on to Natalie, who
knocks him out with a lamp. The hotel manager hears the struggle and calls the police. Natalie and Pike escape, but Chino is caught and gunned down. Natalie then forces Pike out of the car at gunpoint and drives away with the paintings, but she's caught by a police roadblock. Pike gets away and
discovers a painting in the sleeve of his jacket which Chino had hidden there.
Two minutes and two-dozen variations of the F-word into BODY COUNT, it's painfully obvious that the film is going to be yet another in the seemingly interminable string of Tarantino wannabe crime films. It's got a fractured flashback structure, one-name hipster criminals whose "offbeat"
conversations encompass everything from explicit descriptions of the power of women's private parts to pretentious talk about a belief in God, and gory violence that's meant to be funny (Chino being stabbed by an old lady while trying to rob a gas station, to the "hilarious" accompaniment of a
Christmas song). But what it's missing is any credibility or sense of style whatsoever, and whether one admires Tarantino or not, at least he steals from the best (particularly--and most often--THE KILLING), while his many imitators only aspire to copy him. To be fair, however, the film does steal
from another source besides Tarantino: several key plot elements (including bickering criminals stuck in a car following a heist, and a female pickup) are lifted directly from Mario Bava's recently discovered RABID DOGS (1974), which the filmmakers apparently believed would never see the light of
day. The talented cast is reduced to being a group of unconvincing poseurs, and when not doing indulgent improvisations--including Leguizamo's entire manic-riff performance, which he treats like a one-man stage show--they give the impression of a group of embarrassed actors who know they're
superior to their material. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, sexual situations.)
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