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(1998) (Christopher Walken, Jay Mohr) (R)

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Drama: A group of young, but affluent men kidnap a former Mafia capo hoping that he'll convince his associates to discover who kidnaped the sister of one of the men.
Charles Barrett (CHRISTOPHER WALKEN) is a powerful, well-respected man who's "retired" from his career in organized crime. When he discovers a group of young men seated at his customarily reserved table, he assumes they don't know any better, but doesn't realize what they have in store for him.

The four young friends, Avery (HENRY THOMAS), Brett (JAY MOHR), Max (SEAN PATRICK FLANERY), and T.K. (JEREMY SISTO), all from affluent families, kidnap the older capo and take him to the vacation home owned by the parents of another friend, Ira (JOHNNY GALECKI). He doesn't know of his friends' plan and is nearly as upset as Charles, if not for the fact that T.K. a pre-med student, has cut off one of Charles' fingers. The friends' motive is simple. Avery's sister, Lisa (LAURA HARRIS), who is also Max's girlfriend, has herself been kidnaped. The police can't find her and the guys plan on forcing Barrett to get his associates to find the girl and/or her kidnapers.

Thus, Charles has his lawyer, Marty (CLIFF De YOUNG), raise the two million dollar ransom, while Lono (DENIS LEARY), his right-hand man, pressures other underworld types for info about the kidnaping. As Lono begins to close in on both sets of kidnapers, the friends begin to question their plan and each other after Charles announces his belief that one or more of them are involved in Lisa's kidnaping.

Fans of someone in the cast and/or those who think this will be like a Quentin Tarantino film ("Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction") might want to see this one, but preteens probably won't.
For strong violence and language, and for some nudity and drug use.
  • Considering that CHRISTOPHER WALKEN and DENIS LEARY are involved in the mafia, and that the five friends kidnap a man and cut off his finger, it's doubtful many parents would consider any of the characters as good role models.


    OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
    Ever since director Quentin Tarantino made crime films hip and popular once again (with "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction"), the slate of would-be imitators continues to grow and "Suicide Kings," a kidnaping with a twist story, is the latest incarnation. From its purposefully scratched and voguish opening credits, through its profanity laden plot and final twists and turns, this is a film that desperately wants to be stylish. Unfortunately, it's not and its obvious attempts at being hip only serve to further undermine what little credibility it possesses.

    The initial plot concept, however, shows some potential. Some silver spooned, twenty-something guys kidnap a former mafioso and plan to use him to solve their own kidnaping dilemma. As they carry out their plan, the hostage slowly begins to play mental mind games with them, while his gun-toting hitman draws closer to finding the perpetrators. That, and the fact that one or more of the kidnapers may actually be double-crossing the others all sounds quite good on paper.

    It's too bad it didn't stay there. Directed by Peter O'Fallon (making his big screen debut after helming episodes of TV's "Party of Five") and written by Wayne Rice and Gina Goldman, the film comes off as anything but believable and only offers tiny tidbits of suspense that might barely hold one's attention. The biggest problem comes from the plot construction and following character motivation.

    Granted, I can accept that these young guys might be desperate enough to think up such a plan, but it's doubtful that all four (and later a reluctant fifth) would agree to carry out such a preposterous notion. While I can also accept that since they're not professional criminals they won't have planned everything out -- which should lead to some fun when they later must deal with Barrett's "worldliness" -- but they've overlooked the obvious first rule of kidnaping. Don't let the hostage know who you are.

    These guys don't even remotely attempt that (by either being masked themselves or blindfolding the hostage) and even introduce themselves to their unknowing victim. Then they later tell him their personal stories and even get cozy in a game of poker with him. What are they -- and better yet, the filmmakers -- thinking? That this well-feared capo will just forget about being kidnaped and losing a finger and attribute it to "boys just being boys?"

    Now, I could buy into the premise if a) they planned on killing Walken's character in the end no matter what -- which obviously isn't true -- or b) they were a bunch of sick, demented characters who get their jollies from kidnaping a dangerous man, cutting off his finger, and generally playing Russian roulette with a "loaded" ex-Mafioso. The latter also isn't true, and these guys simply (and I purposefully use that term) come off as rejects from the low I.Q. ward and not the sons of some prominent and obviously affluent parents.

    Thus, and unless you're below -- or at best on par with these guys on a mental level -- you'll never believe the story for one moment. No matter what kind of make believe a movie tries to present -- be it dinosaurs, space aliens, ghosts, or silver-spooned kidnapers -- if it can't make you believe in the premise, then it's lost its audience. The only thing that keeps this film from being so unintentionally bad that it's funny is that the people behind it think it's a hip, Tarantino- like film. Sorry, but it's not even remotely close.

    There are two precise reasons for that and they involve well-written dialogue and interesting characters. "Pulp Fiction" had tremendous depth in both, while this film has neither. For a story that involves a hostage taped to a chair who's surrounded by five guys who slowly discover that they are way in over their heads, the dialogue is surprisingly and disappointedly flat. There are few witty remarks and absolutely no "fun" exchanges between the characters. Trying to imitate "Pulp Fiction's" interesting, but nearly pointless discussions about Big Macs and other hamburger trivia, this film delivers a never-ending discussion about Denis Leary's $1,500 stingray boots that's not even close in style or quality.

    Speaking of Leary ("The Matchmaker," "Two If By Sea"), his is the only character who's halfway interesting. Nonetheless, it's just the same old, irritated, ready to explode at any moment, rapid- fire delivery of dialogue routine that the comic turned actor has perfected so well. Even so, he does have some funny moments and bits of dialogue to deliver, but not enough to save this picture.

    Walken ("Last Man Standing") is somewhat disappointing considering his usual panache for playing twisted characters. Although we're told that he's a really dangerous guy, he rarely appears menacing and these young kidnapers -- who should be terrified to be in the same room with him after really pissing him off -- cozy up to him like their favorite uncle. Of course the film also allows each character to be alone in the room with Barrett so that he can try to screw up their minds, but even these predictable moments lack any real fireworks. Walken's character is never convincing, and we're robbed of what should have been some "fun" scenes where he takes these young punks to task for what they're doing. Granted he's been drugged and is reportedly slowly bleeding to death, but we neither worry about his condition nor find him that intriguing.

    The performers who inhabit the kidnapers -- including Henry Thomas (Eliot from "E.T."), Sean Patrick Flanery (TV's "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles"), Jay Mohr ("Picture Perfect," "Jerry Maguire") and Jeremy Sisto ("White Squall," "Clueless") -- do an okay enough job to differentiate themselves from each other. Yet they never make you believe these guys are anything near being close friends, and there are no standout performances to be found among them.

    Unless, of course you consider Johnny Galecki's ("I Know What You Did Last Summer") take on what George Costanza (Jason Alexander's character on "TV's "Seinfeld") would have been like as a twenty-something son of rich parents. Neurotically more obsessed with his friends taking off their shoes in his father's home than with the presence of a bound hostage, we assumed he's supposed to be funny like Costanza, but he only comes off as constantly irritating.

    The same holds true for scenes involving the "other" kidnapers. We're "treated" to scenes of them arguing over using the TV's remote control and then get to see one nearly kill the other (with a loaded gun to the head) over that. Is that supposed to make us believe these guys are dangerously unstable, or just two idiots glued to the TV?

    Such odd moments also include seeing Denis Leary's character pummel a man with a toaster (presumably to make us also think he's dangerous although we've already come to that conclusion), Walken telling a story about his canine consumption solution for some troublesome neighbors (dogs eating raw, human meat), and a 1970's flashback where we see a long-haired Walken (funny just for the sight) save a prostitute who barely figures into the main story.

    The film does try to offer some concluding plot twists and turns that explain what's actually happened and the true motivations of those involved, but the moments aren't that shocking and the very end of the film is unbelievable and preposterously hokey. When some of the kidnapers begin to cry as the revelations are made (accompanied by the melodramatic score that's extremely overused throughout the production), the moment becomes utterly ridiculous.

    The biggest problem is that the filmmakers are trying too hard to be hip, and while a few moments are okay, most come off as cheap imitations of material that Tarantino would have left on the cutting room floor. It's time these people work to make their own films with their own individualized voices, instead of trying to make a Tarantino film. Wasting an interesting premise that had potential, as well as a decent cast, this wannabe movie falls way short and lands hard due to its obvious self-belief that it's going to be good. Instead, it slowly becomes nothing more than a monotonous retreading of other similar films. When Walken's character tells his kidnapers, "Guys, if I don't bleed to death soon, I'm gonna die from boredom," you might just understand exactly how he feels. We give "Suicide Kings" a 2.5 out of 10.

    Here's a quick summary of this film's content. Profanity is extreme with more than 200 "f" words and a large assortment of others. Violence is also extreme with several murders and the severing of a finger. None of the characters are good roles models as they're either kidnapers or members of the mafia (who kill people). One character "shoots up" heroin, while others drink and smoke. We see several shots of a bare-breasted dancer and also see her bare butt (in a thong-like bottom). Although it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, you should look through the content to determine if it's appropriate for them, or for anyone else in your home.

  • A few of the guys and Charles have drinks (they beer, he liquor) before they kidnap him.
  • Ira mentions "...beer, porno, pot...poker..." when describing what he thought he and his friends would be doing over the weekend.
  • Max drinks liquor in several scenes.
  • Marty and a woman have wine with dinner.
  • T.K. gives Charles some type of drug for his pain.
  • T.K. "shoots up" what appears to be heroin (we only see him preparing to do so).
  • The guys let Charles drink some whiskey, and we later learn that he's an alcoholic.
  • Some people drink in a bar and club.
  • After kidnaping Charles, the guys drink beer in several scenes.
  • A minor character appears to be somewhat drunk and drinks beer.
  • A former hooker mentions she (and others) used to be "high" all of the time.
  • The guys drink in a flashback scene in a casino.
  • We see some blood on T.K.'s scrubs as well as see some dripping on the floor. We then see that they've cut off Charles' finger (his bandaged hand is bloody and we see the severed finger several times).
  • A waitress has a little bit of a bloody lip.
  • We briefly see a man's face that's bloody.
  • A man is shot and we see his bloody shirt.
  • We see a shot of some dogs eating raw meat and simultaneously learn that they're actually eating pieces of their former owners.
  • We see Charles' bandaged hand again and it's quite bloody.
  • A man's nose is just a little bloody after being punched.
  • We see some blood squirt out from people as they're shot (but not too much).
  • Obviously the four friends, and later Ira, have both as they kidnap and won't release Charles (and have cut off one of his fingers), and some of them are involved in Lisa's kidnaping plot.
  • In addition, there are two other men involved in the kidnaping.
  • Charles and Lono have both as they're involved in mafia matters.
  • A waitress' father pulls her onto his lap and starts to kiss her in a rough fashion.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense (to varying degrees) to some viewers.
  • A security guard nearly discovers the friends' kidnaping as he searches the house.
  • Handguns: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Shut the 'f' up," "Butt f*ck," (adjective), "Kissing ass," "Shut up," "Pissed," "Geez," "Piss," "Wet dream," "Laid" (sexual), "Whore" (toward a woman), "Bastard," "Scumbag," "Jerk," "Balls" and "Rocks" (for testicles), "Fags," "Screwed it up," and "Nuts" (for crazy).
  • There are several instances where people hold guns to other's heads (and one where a man even pulls the trigger).
  • None.
  • There is a heavy amount of suspenseful music throughout most of the production.
  • None.
  • At least 207 "f" words (4 used sexually and 4 used with "mother"), 32 "s" words, 8 slang terms for male genitals (the "d" and "p" words and "c*cks*cker"), 1 slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 11 asses (6 used with "hole"), 11 hells, 2 damns, 1 S.O.B., and 11 uses of "G-damn," 7 uses each of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ," 6 of "Oh my God," 3 uses of "Christ," 2 of "For Christ's sakes" and 1 use each of "My God," "Oh Christ" and "God" as exclamations.
  • The friends use a full-sized, blowup sex doll (complete with an open mouth) as a stand-in for Charles while rehearsing the kidnaping.
  • Ira mentions "...beer, porno, pot, poker..." when describing what he thought he and his friends would be doing over the weekend.
  • Lisa climbs atop Max's lap in a parked car, but nothing much else happens and there's no nudity. However, he does say, "Lisa, you're not making this easy for me" to which she replies, "Good. I was going for harder."
  • A former hooker shows some cleavage in the past and present.
  • We see several shots of a bare-breasted "exotic dancer," as well as most of her bare butt (in a thong-like bottom) in a strip club.
  • A woman in a bikini top shows some cleavage.
  • Lono smokes several times.
  • Some of the guys smoke cigars while playing poker.
  • Some minor characters smoke.
  • A drunken man grabs and tries to kiss a waitress whom we assume is his daughter.
  • Lono talks about hitting his father with a baseball bat after the latter was repeatedly drunk.
  • Using violence as a means to an end (these guys want to solve their kidnaping problem by kidnaping/torturing someone else).
  • Charles struggles with the men in their car (as they drive on the wrong side of a tunnel and must avoid the oncoming cars) as they try to knock him out with chloroform. He breaks one of the car windows before they finally inject him with a sedative-filled syringe that does knock him out.
  • We see Charles' severed finger that the friends have recently cut off his hand.
  • Brett throws something to the floor that shatters.
  • Brett holds a handgun on Charles in a threatening fashion.
  • One of the other kidnapers holds a gun to his partner's head and even pulls the trigger over an argument concerning the TV remote control.
  • In a flashback we see the kidnapers break a car window, forcibly remove Lisa and then knock Max unconscious.
  • Lono talks about hitting his father with a baseball bat after the latter was repeatedly drunk.
  • Lono repeatedly bludgeons a drunken, abusive man with a toaster.
  • In a flashback, Charles shoots and kills a man.
  • Lono repeatedly beats a man with a golf club and then kicks him on the floor.
  • We see a shot of some dogs eating some raw meat and simultaneously learn that they're actually eating pieces of their former owners.
  • One of the friends punches another one.
  • The men hold down one of their friends and prepare to saw off one of his fingers.
  • One of the men holds a gun on another one.
  • Ira throws and shatters many vases inside the house.
  • There's a gun standoff near the end of the movie.
  • A man shoots another man in the arm.
  • A man shoots another man in both legs, and he then shoots that man and his partner in their heads, killing them.
  • Two more people are shot dead (we hear the gunshots).

  • Reviewed March 12, 1998

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