The term "kitchen sink" used to refer to a style of cinematic naturalism. In the case of TOP OF THE WORLD, it signifies a commercial enterprise that throws in every filmmaking style but the kitchen sink; this film shifts tone, crossbreeds genres, and pumps up its violence quotient to distract an audience it has long since lost. The film premiered on HBO...read more
The term "kitchen sink" used to refer to a style of cinematic naturalism. In the case of TOP OF THE WORLD, it signifies a commercial enterprise that throws in every filmmaking style but the kitchen sink; this film shifts tone, crossbreeds genres, and pumps up its violence quotient to
distract an audience it has long since lost. The film premiered on HBO and was subsequently released on home video.
Newly released ex-con Ray Mercer (Peter Weller) spends his first day of freedom accompanying his estranged wife Rebecca (Tia Carrere) to Las Vegas for a divorce. Killing time at a casino managed by Rebecca's new boyfriend Steve Atlas (Dennis Hopper), Mercer gets a big payoff on a slot machine.
Before he can collect, Ray gets caught in the middle of a carefully timed robbery of the casino. Heading a dimwitted crew disguised as security guards, trigger-happy Carl (Martin Kove) makes off with $12 million from the counting room.
The heist is being masterminded by Atlas and his partner Vince (Joe Pantoliano) to conceal millions they've already siphoned away from their Mafia bosses. When quick police intervention traps the thieves inside the casino hotel, Atlas decides to play parolee Mercer for his patsy because Mercer has
a prison record. The owner of the casino, nicknamed the Butcher (Peter Coyote), comes gunning for the burglars personally. As a SWAT team peppers the building with bullets, Mercer shoots the Butcher in self-defense before clutching the bottom of a getaway copter carrying Rebecca, Carl, Atlas, and
Vince. When he discovers a shortage in the cash taken from the counting room, a suspicious Atlas murders Vince. Upon landing, Carl flees, while Mercer, Rebecca, and Atlas chase each other to Hoover Dam. Atlas plunges to his death in a scuffle, and Rebecca reveals she masterminded a pre-robbery
skimming of Atlas's payload; she stashed the millions in her car at the casino parking garage.
This smirking film is infuriating, because its cynicism isn't earned; a smarty-pants attitude is slathered on top of this double-crosser's Dagwood sandwich like mayonnaise covering stale lunch meat. Everything about this caper is past its expiration date, from the dishonor-among-thieves subtext to
the barely breathing performances to the plot reversals any idiot could figure out. TOP OF THE WORLD doesn't merely fashion a tongue-in-cheek overview, it changes stylistic gears and turns the crime aftermath into a robbery vaudeville. When a movie fires salvos from the opening credits, the
audience soon learns to duck for cover. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, nudity, substance abuse.)