In this lame-brained but painless caper comedy, various factions battle over the Byzantine Fire, a priceless ruby. The jewel is in the possession of the Republic of Turkey until Armenian terrorists grab it. A few plot contrivances later, the gem has fallen into the hands of a gang of
inept thieves, led by Gus Cardinale (Christopher Lambert). The Turkish government, members of the Armenian Liberation Army, the CIA, and agents of other nations all want the gem, which puts Gus in a sticky situation. When Gus and his father-in-law, Bruno Daley (Christopher Lloyd), pay a visit to
their fence, Ralph (Michael J. Pollard), they are amazed when police burst in and confiscate their stolen property. It seems the cops are cracking down on all criminal activity in their search for the gem, and the local federation of crooks asks Gus to track down the missing gem. Gus is also
grilled by the CIA, offered a deal by Turkish authorities, and threatened by crude cop Mahoney (J.T. Walsh). Gus makes a deal with Mahoney by which he will hand over the ruby if the jewels he has stolen are returned. However, Bruno has made a deal with the Turkish government in which he will get
cash for the return of the jewel. Both plans are jeopardized when they learn Gus's wife, June (Kim Greist), has put the jewel in a bank safe deposit box. Since it's the weekend and the jewel is needed immediately, Gus and Bruno have to break into the bank to get the ruby, while also figuring a way
out of the fine mess they've gotten themselves in.
Aiming for a cross between the Keystone Kops and TOPKAPI, this flat effort fails on all but the most rudimentary level of escapism. As a time-waster, it provides the pleasure of an ingenious bank heist, but bungles its climax in which dozens of bird-brained characters fumble about. Complicated
without being clever, the film lacks suspense and is sluggishly paced. Although the dialog is another debit, the major drawback here is Lambert, an attractive male model who was much better when all he had to do was grunt as Tarzan in GREYSTOKE--THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES. Required to
deliver allegedly snappy patter, he can't hold the screen. All the zany supporting characters whirl around the deadpan Lambert to no avail. Although expensive demolitions, car chases, and slapstick shenanigans are momentarily distracting, they can't overcome the film's numerous shortcomings.
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: In this lame-brained but painless caper comedy, various factions battle over the Byzantine Fire, a priceless ruby. The jewel is in the possession of the Republic of Turkey until Armenian terrorists grab it. A few plot contrivances later, the gem has fallen… (more)