Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cold Comes the Night

The English actress Alice Eve plays Chloe, a cash-strapped single mother who runs a roadside motel (frequented by druggies and prostitutes) in upstate New York and, to the consternation of social services, lives there with her young daughter Sophia (Ursula Parker) in “Cold Comes the Night.”

One day, Topo, a blind Russian hit man/deliveryman for some bad people (Bryan Cranston), checks into the motel, which has the unfortunate effect of requiring Cranston to speak. Upon hearing his Count Dracula accent, my friend and I turned to each other and started laughing. All my friend said was, “I can’t.”

That night, Topo’s dimwit driver – who’d checked in separately a few hours earlier – gets into a gunfight with the hooker (or, I guess, the upstate New York version of a hooker) he picked up at a convenience store. Both the driver and the hooker die, resulting in the seizure of the car they’d been driving and, unbeknownst to the fuzz, the seven-figure bundle of cash they’d hidden behind the stereo. No problemo. Topo sticks a gun in Chloe’s back and has her try to talk her ex-boyfriend, a cop named Billy (Logan Marshall-Green) who just happens to divert impounded cars to his scrap-dealer buddy and pocket a thousand per, into selling her the car. When he refuses, Topo has Chloe sneak onto the impound lot – seconds after some other cops step off the scene – and retrieve the money. Needless to say, it’s already been taken.

Here’s where writer-director Tze Chun starts really racking up the fake-outs and the body count. Billy’s wife Amber (Erin Cummings) – an obvious onetime romantic rival of Chloe’s – loses her head (literally) after Topo has Chloe break into Billy’s place to look for the loot and everything goes pear-shaped. Billy himself goes batshit crazy later, screaming and waving his gun around in a scene so histrionic my friend began rooting for him to kill someone just to bring it down. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a wuss. I watch a fair number of thrillers through “Finger Vision” so I don’t have to see any more than I want to. It’s not a good sign, then, that when the cheesy music crescendoed in this movie, my eyes stayed wide open and I didn’t much care what was behind each new door.

Cranston’s performance would be an early Razzie nominee if anyone were to see this picture, which they won’t. Eve is perfectly credible as a Yank, but less so as a human being. She comes awkwardly to life for fifteen minutes at a time, then returns to a vaguely catatonic state like a battery-operated doll in need of recharging. Marshall-Green goes way over the top, giving the sort of performance a high-school drama student might misguidedly include in his portfolio for admission to Juilliard. The whole enterprise has the feeling of a too-many-cooks international co-production that never finds a comfort zone or a real home.

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