Give ‘em Hell, Malone (2009): Breakdown by Rantbo
“His name is Malone and he’s one tough dick.”
Much like westerns, smart comedies, and 80s style action, the noir detective films have been in a steady decline of studio and mass audience popularity these past couple decades and all but disappeared outside of the independent and foreign DTV market since the rise of the CG Superhero. But thankfully, they still have their niche audience and die hard fans. And while I don’t necessarily include myself amongst the noir centric ranks, I still support the films when and where I can, as they usually make for good times. And such is the case with this post-modern, action-fused nut-pumper.
The story kicks off with Private Dick, and public ass-kicker Malone (Tom Jane), mid-case with one of the single most badass pre-credits sequences I’ve ever seen. Which makes for a razor sharp double-edged sword, as while it surely engages and excites, it quickly becomes apparent that short of a cinematic miracle, there is just no way the rest of the film will live up to or maintain the same level of badass output. And my assumption was correct. But, before I get to why, allow me to go back a moment to the story…
Like I said, we join Malone in the middle of a case, of which his goal is to obtain an actual case. But as the blood spattered surroundings quickly suggest, it didn’t go as planned. And after a violent, yet funny SHOOT ‘EM UP-esque exchange of bullets with an accompanying morbid voice-over discussing the various ways to be horribly maimed and killed by way of the gun, Malone drives away alive, case in tow.
The rest of the film’s 90 or so minutes follow Malone as he tries to piece together the who, what, where and why the contents of his pre-credits prize, “The Meaning Of Love”, is under such secrecy, protection and demand by a cavalcade of over-the-top hitmen and shot callers.
So, the question becomes, why didn’t the rest of the film turn out to be as stellar as the opening? Several reasons. First, a couple of—well, actually—MOST of the supporting cast take their characters a little too over-the-top wacky for my taste. Especially Doug Hutchinson. While I normally love his work, the character of Matchstick was a virtual clone of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Only instead of being an anarchist, he’s a pyromaniac and oddly enough, actually less interesting. Then there’s French Stewart as Frankie the Crooner. I don’t think he’s ever been less funny, or more annoying and that’s saying something.
Second, there’s the weirdness factor. For instance, the physics of fire seem to be inexplicably other worldly and almost everyone seems to have an X-Men Wolverine level healing factor. The fire behaves like CGI fire in that it doesn’t burn what it should, effect people like real fire, or even appear visually similar to the flames you and I know exist. And as for the miraculous recoveries, people are horribly maimed in one scene, and yet seem perfectly fine a mere minute later. Characters are struck in the face with bats and fire extinguishers, impaled with rusty nails, and still seem to recover by the next scene as if it were something as trivial as a nosebleed. Now while I understand that this film is trying to be out there on the fringe of fantasy and noir, I couldn’t help but be taken out of the experience every time something like this happened with no explanation.
One final gripe, but I’ll coincidentally keep it short—the film isn’t long enough. An odd thing for me of all people to complain about, I know, as I normally advocate the 90 minute action movie length. However, in the case of a noir film, there has to be a certain level of build up WITH a certain level of pacing in order to let all the facts and factors sink in. And in the case of MALONE, I could have easily gone for another half an hour more of “processing” scenes to really flesh out the action-to-sleuthing ratio to better even out the narrative.
OK, all that said, MALONE is still pretty kick-ass. Tom Jane was born to play a role like this. He fits into that fedora and oversized dress shirt so well, you could swear he was a gritty pulp-novel cover come to life. And in the brief 96 minutes allocated, crafts a character I would easily pay good cash to see in future adventures. The story, while again too fast, was still a thrilling, action-packed kick in the bumper. And simply filled to the brim with an updated (curse filled) 40s style quick-wit, rapid speed dialogue that I think any fan of the genre will be simply tickled by. In closing, GIVE ‘EM HELL, MALONE was fast, brutal, unapologetically violent, and most importantly—cool. And when all the above gets accented by the film’s fabulous retro bluesy score, makes for a really fun ode to a great yet fading fan favorite genre. I recommend it to anyone who ever wondered what CHINATOWN would be like if it were made for action fans and intended to be seen in a Grindhouse theater.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Thomas Jane is Malone
“Some men are harder to kill than others—fortunately, I’m one of the hard ones.”
“Malone’s hard. REAL hard. Word is he turned from private dick, to gun for hire after what they did to his family… They say that when he found out the men that killed his family, he tore out their hearts with his bare hands. And he ate them.”
“He’s a swell guy, when he’s not ruffin’ people up.”
“I hope your man’s better at delivering goods than looking pretty, ‘cuz he sure as Hell ain’t much of a looker.”
A hard-talkin’, hard-drinkin’, hard boiled dick to be reckoned with. And while aspects of his legend turn out to be fabricated, he’s still every bit a bad-ass, shit-kicking mother fucker as they imply. Before even learning his name, Malone delivers nearly a dozen men straight to Satan’s doorstep via the ole’ bullet train. And all in bloody, brutal and brilliant fashion. Only ever slowing down for a shot of scotch and to pull the bullets out of his mangled ass, Malone takes a lickin’ and keeps on kickin’.
For some reason or another, Jane has never done much for me. I’ve liked him as long as I’ve known of him, but before this role, I can’t think of a single movie of his I’ve seen that I didn’t find either mediocre, or just flat out bad. Though I never took direct issue with Tommy himself, I’m happy to report that he’s finally managed to break down my apprehensive barrier toward his film choices and transformed the rubble into a firm wall of appreciation and admiration, as Tom Jane IS Malone.
[THE BODY COUNT: 52]
One of the perks of being a private detective is that you don’t have to file paperwork when you plug a wise guy. Which is good for Malone’s dominant hand, as he kills with a reckless abandon. This film has to have one of the highest counts for it’s genre. And if variety is the spice of life, Malone enjoys his extra—well, spicy. With 26 kills by way of the gun, blade, alcohol and chair leg over the course of a couple days, Malone means business. And on top of that, 26 more souls are shot, beaten, lit ablaze and bled out by razor blades by the supporting cast. Needless to say, this flick earns it’s R rating and then some.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
While Malone does get several novelty kills worthy of this section, I still have to go with one of his competitors, The Mauler (Chris Yen), and her unique disposal of a creepy pederast carnie (redundant, I know). What makes the kill great is that you can see it coming from a mile away, yet the filmmakers prolong the execution allowing the tension to build slowly, much like the old man’s boner. Then, at the height of both the pervert’s and the audience’s excitement—it happens.
I won’t spoil the scene with specifics of what IT entails, but with an above still like that, does it really make much of a difference?
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Man, I’m struggling to even come up with something to misconstrue. Every guy in the movie is either chasing dames, with a dame, or motivated by helping their current dame. One could say that the shadowy history of Malone and Ving Rhames’s character, Boulder (pretty gay, right there), could be seen as having some sexual tension. It’s quickly dissipated, however, by the fact Boulder does what he does to keep his comatose wife on life support. And though I could hypothesize a theory involving an attempted suicide over the knowledge of an extra marital, homoerotic affair with Malone being the bane of his conscious — I won’t.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
“Talk. Or I’ll make like you’re my daughter and bend you over my knee.”
As this is a 40’s style noir, the filmmaker’s made sure to authenticate the film with the inclusion of female mistreatment, misuse and murder.
Though, I’m pretty sure no women got slapped for being a mouthy dame who don’t know her place, every woman of decent copulating age in the film is currently, or formally a “lady of the evening”. And some more than others…
Yes, as the above still and the film imply, those ladies just got done “earning” their visas from French Stewart. ~Shudder~ Those poor, poor dime-store hussies.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: Malone Head-Butts A Bitch
Mauler: I can’t even get a date… Do you think it’s my personality!?
Malone: Nah, it’s probably your face.
And then he head-butts her face. Simple, fast, effective—funny.
Malone [To a pleading victim]: You hear that?
Victim: What? Hear what?
Malone’s Gun: ~Bang!~
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“There’s one golden rule: Once you’re dead—you stay that way.”
[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Give ’em Hell, Malone (2009) © Malone Productions, North By Northwest Productions and National Entertainment Media