Another witty Elmore Leonard adaptation, PRONTO, features original characters and geography that set it apart from most crime flicks. Made for the Showtime network in 1997, PRONTO was subsequently released on home video in 1998.
Harry Arno (Peter Falk) is a Miami bookie in the indirect employ of mobster Jimmy Cap (Walter Olkewicz). When the FBI looks to nail Jimmy, they set Harry up as a target, spreading the rumor that he's skimming. Jimmy sends a fresh-off-the-boat Sicilian hit man named Tommy Bucks (Sergio Castellito),
who everybody refers to simply as "the Zip," to kill Harry. Knowing Harry's in danger, the Feds send Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens (James Le Gros) to protect him. Seven years earlier, Harry--then a witness in a federal case--gave Raylan the slip, forever marring the deputy's record. When Harry
once again disappears, Raylan is determined to get him back.
Harry sneaks off to Rapallo, Italy, a spot he discovered during his service in WWII. After hiring another expatriate named Robert Gee (Glenn Plummer) to run errands for him, Harry sends for his girlfriend, Joyce (Glenne Headly), who travels to Italy, with Raylan following her and the Zip following
him. Raylan first encounters Joyce in an outdoor cafe, and an instant bond forms between them. He follows her to Harry's villa, but seeing he's being tailed by the Zip's thugs, he pulls off and kills two of them. Knowing the Zip will be back, Raylan sends Harry and Joyce back to Miami; he stays
behind to find Robert, who has been kidnapped by the Zip. After asking Raylan at gunpoint for Harry's whereabouts, the Zip shoots Robert and lets the deputy go.
Back in Miami, the Zip and Raylan meet again. The two face off in a restaurant, and when the Zip pulls a gun Raylan kills him. Harry goes back to his bookie business, and Raylan and Joyce leave Florida together.
Though missing the breezy attitude that characterized Barry Sonnenfeld's Leonard adaptation GET SHORTY (1995), PRONTO offers up a number of refreshingly original characters. When first introduced, Raylan appears to be the stereotypical "modern cowboy," with his spotless white cowboy hat and "much
obliged, ma'am" demeanor; however, by the end of the film, he has exposed a ruthless streak that doesn't fit into the good ol' boy mold. The same can be said for the Zip, who turns out to be much more interesting than the average crime-movie hit man, particularly when he and his Italian buddies
are ridiculing a would-be goodfella from Miami.
The least interesting character is Harry, in no small part due to Peter Falk's less-than-inspired portrayal (which isn't so bad, since by PRONTO's halfway mark, Harry's story has taken a backseat to that of Raylan and the Zip). The most nuanced performance comes from Sergio Castellito as the
hitman Tommy "the Zip" Bucks, an authentic Italian mobster who can't believe the clowns pretending to be wise guys in Miami.
Like the Zip, PRONTO itself benefits from its international settings. When the action switches to Rapallo (actually Greece standing in for Italy), director Jim McBride (THE BIG EASY) achieves a whole new feel, depicting the Americans, and Raylan in particular, as starkly out of place without
resorting to "ugly American" cliches. By jumping to Italy, PRONTO energizes what could have been a tired premise; by the time the action returns to Miami, the once-flat characters are fully formed, setting up a very satisfying climax. (Violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: Another witty Elmore Leonard adaptation, PRONTO, features original characters and geography that set it apart from most crime flicks. Made for the Showtime network in 1997, PRONTO was subsequently released on home video in 1998. Harry Arno (Peter Falk) is… (more)