Beyond the call of duty, Jude Law has gone out of the way to occupy a scrubby, belligerent ex-con for this coarse black comedy. Dom Hemingway is somewhat of an original character, if you discount Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange,” Dustin Hoffman in “Straight Time” and Ben Kingsley in “Sexy Beast.” Law nonetheless puts his own idiosyncratic Cockney voice into the role of a safecracker whose goal is to collect once he’s done serving his 12-year stint, so very brazenly in payback mode. Everybody owes him something. That’s the comedy, that of a middle-aged criminal with the childish id that he served time for the sake of his mob boss, and now he’s owed reparations. The florid Tarantino-esque dialogue seeks to capture the everyday vitriol of a rat, and Law chews on every word ravenously. Imagine if the Reservoir Dogs were an amalgam of one man with greasy mutton chops then you get the picture. But the movie, opening with a three-minute monologue ode to the potency of his cock (yikes), is, uh, not very funny.
If it hadn’t been funny to anybody, than it could have still been engrossing. But the problem with the movie, the biggest problem, is that Law is actually convincing but every other supporting character from top to bottom, male to female, is utterly unconvincing. Which makes the comedy not only flat, unconvincing, but wearying and transparent. Demian Bichir, who I could see as a mob runner, is not convincing as the boss who tolerates Dom’s bitching and moaning. In the second half, Dom is challenged by a younger criminal named Lestor (Jumayn Hunter), whose pet cat he once killed, to open a safe with a time limit or face some serious maiming as a consequence. But the upstart Lestor, and his thug mates, are also unconvincing and so I just didn’t care.
This being not just a black comedy but a twist on conventional comedy formulas, Dom finds himself craving redemption by mending his relationship with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke, an uninteresting screen presence as well). But, of course, the number one priority for Dom is money, enough of it to be set-up for life. “Dom Heminway” ends surprisingly abrupt after it gets what it’s after, and while most other times I would have felt gypped, I was just relieved it was over. Writer-director Richard Shepard had success with “The Matador” with aging hitman Pierce Brosnan confronting his conscience, but there isn’t much of a moral message here – or purpose. There’s some meager entertainment here in seeing Law act loose with his anti-hero miscreant. That’s all.
93 Minutes. Rated R.
BLACK COMEDY / SMART-ASSES / WEEKEND VIEWING DEBAUCHERY
Film Cousins: “A Clockwork Orange” (1971); “Straight Time” (1978); “Sexy Beast” (2000); “The Matador” (2005).