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"GOOD TIME"
(2017) (Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dramatic Thriller: A young man attempts to rescue his brother when their bank robbery attempt doesn't play out as planned.
PLOT:
Connie Nikas (ROBERT PATTINSON) is a young man who's overly protective of his adult brother, Nick (BENNY SAFDIE), who's somewhat mentally challenged. In need of money, Connie has Nick assist him in robbing a bank, and they nearly get away with that until the dye packs explode during their getaway. Nick ends up captured by the police and Nick then goes to his girlfriend, Corey Ellman (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH), in hopes that she can use her mom's credit card to pay for Nick's parole. Unbeknownst to them, Nick has been hospitalized after a brutal fight has left his face entirely bandaged, and he's under police guard at the local hospital.

Connie then attempts to rescue him from there, all of which results in him meeting and needing assistance from 16-year-old Crystal (TALIAH WEBSTER); making an unanticipated acquaintance out of small-time drug dealer Ray (BUDDY DURESS); and having a violent run-in with Dash (BARKHAD ABDI), a nighttime security guard at a local amusement park. During all of that, Connie does what he can to be reunited with his brother.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
In the fun, vintage style ads for Steven Soderbergh's latest crime caper heist flick, "Logan Lucky," there's a fun bit at one moment where there's a shot of a famous actor and the wording of "And introducing Daniel Craig." It's obviously done tongue firmly planted in cheek, but in a way, the film and Craig's role in it sort of reintroduce the actor to those who've forgotten everything else he's also done due to his association with playing 007 in the James Bond films.

While the advertising strategy is decidedly and understandably different for the crime drama "Good Time," it could have easily done the same introduction bit in regard to lead actor Robert Pattinson. Despite notable performances in other (and decidedly smaller) films, he's somewhat typecast in many a viewer's mind as the actor who wooed Kristen Stewart on camera in the "Twilight" movies and off-camera as her real life beau, a relationship that flamed out a few year ago in high paparazzi frenzy fashion.

Considering his work here and in other smaller films, I highly doubt the actor's career is going to flame out anytime soon. While there isn't a huge range to the anti-hero he plays in this film from the brotherly writing/directing duo of Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, that's a result of the way the character has been written rather than performed.

In a way, it's somewhat similar to the 1985 black comedy film "After Hours." In that terrific flick, Griffin Dunne played an ordinary guy who experiences a series of misadventures and run-ins with various interesting characters while trying to get home at night. Here, Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a down on his luck guy in need of cash.

Despite his brother, Nick (Benny Safdie) having some sort of high functioning mental issue -- or perhaps due to feeling the need to prove he's "normal" -- he enlists his adult sibling's aid in robbing a bank. They seemingly get away with the robbery, that is until the dye pack explodes, their getaway driver crashes, the brothers end up separated, and Nick is caught and locked up by the cops. Connie then spends the rest of the night -- and the film's 100-some minute runtime -- first trying to get his brother out of jail, and then out of a hospital.

All of which results in various obstacles and encounters with various characters (played by the likes of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Taliah Webster, Buddy Duress and "Captain Phillips'" Barkhad Abdi), somewhat akin to a darker version of Dunne's experiences three decades earlier. And that's really about it in terms of plot as the filmmakers have stripped the story down to its bare and sometimes raw essentials and then let their characters operate in that.

It might be somewhat two-dimensional in that regard, but the way in which the brothers (and cinematographer Sean Price Williams) have shot the film (often in close-up to draw and drag the viewer even deeper into the proceedings), and as accompanied by Daniel Lopatin's techno-synthesizer score, turns this into something of an intense, often enthralling and suspenseful cinematic ride where you're never certain what's going to happen next.

And at the center of it all is Pattinson who propels the story forward with all of the focus and energy a ravenous vampire expends while after his latest victim. Even in its two-dimensional state, it's a far more interesting character than Edward Cullen in those awful "Twilight" flicks and notwithstanding me bringing that previous work back into the discussion, the actor delivers exactly what's needed for the role and the overall film.

Yes, it's appropriate to go ahead and say "And introducing Robert Pattinson" as the actor's work here will easily make people forget about the part that made him famous and potentially typecast forever. And that should mean there will be plenty of good times for the performer following this "Good Time." The film rates as a 6.5 out of 10.




Reviewed August 3, 2017 / Posted August 25, 2017


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