FAST MONEY, an unexpected diamond in the rough, occasionally floors its accelerator pedal to the max. At its best, it is a wind-in-your-hair highway ride, equal parts outlaw saga and white-collar liberation yarn; IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) meets SOMETHING WILD (1986).
Having caused a major cop-car pileup, luxury-car-thief Francesca Marsh (Yancy Butler) latches onto journalist Jack (Matt McCoy), who is on his way to cover a karaoke convention.
Desiring a change of wheels, amoral Francesca "borrows" a flashy red sportscar--not realizing the stolen vehicle's trunk contains counterfeit plates and $2.7 million in cash. These ill-gotten gains belong to British crime king Sir Stewart (Jacob Witkin), and he orders his triggerman Regy (Trevor
Goddard) to team up with bad cop Lt. Diego (John Ashton) to retrieve the goods and eliminate Francesca.
Adept at outsmarting the pitbullish Diego, Francesca wheedles Jack into further cooperation by pointing out the headline potential of their predicament. Entrapped by corrupt Feds on Stewart's payroll, Jack turns over the counterfeit plates, but streetwise Francesca rubs out the crooked officials
before they can eliminate Jack.
Fleeing warrants for robbery and murder, the erstwhile Bonnie and Clyde flummox their trackers until Regy and Lt. Diego finally corner them at a roadside tavern. Increasingly rattled, Regy guns down a barmaid to show Jack and Francesca that he means business.
Francesca and Jack escape once more, lie low at the apartment of Jack's mom, and await passports arranged by Jack's newspaper editor. After these travel plans are cancelled by the murders of the editor and his companion, Regy and Diego chase the fugitives to the Mexican border.
Jack and Francesca stow away on an ice cream truck after Jack is wounded, hitch another ride, and attempt to cross the border on foot. Dropping the loot as Regy circles above in a copter, Jack uses Diego as a shield and shoots Regy right out of his whirlybird. Without money, Jack and Francesca
cross the border.
Despite some misfires, FAST MONEY is fast-paced fun invigorated by the personality-plus Butler, who strikes sparks in the usually bland McCoy. Butler has enough cover-girl sensuality and sharp timing to rev up the engines of any direct-to-video movie. In FAST MONEY, a sort of thumbnail sketch for
a slicker Hollywood blockbuster, Butler distracts viewers from massive doses of improbability.
The most serious hiccup in this madcap game of highway tag is that slaughter of the innocent barmaid. Although intended to underscore Regy's deadly volatility, the senseless act puts a heavy burden on a light entertainment. Overlooking that sharp swerve into Demme-land, action buffs and romantics
can both enjoy this seduction of a contemporary Mr. Deeds by a service-road Lorelei. Car theft as an aphrodisiac is a new spin on the Hollywood dictum that crime can be rewarding but dangerous. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity.)
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