Charlie Valentine (2009): Breakdown by Rantbo
An aging mobster tries to fuck over the bossman, fails, and has to face the repercussions of retirement on the lamb.
Much like LOST IN TRANSLATION, the film opens with what Pacino would call, “A GREAT ASS!”
Butt, then the comparisons between these two films seems to stop. And the ones between director Jesse V. Johnson’s other recent work begins. More on that in a bit.
Raymond J. Barry plays Charlie Valentine, a class-A badass “former” mobster, with his penchant for living on the edge, and an almost super-human ability to sap the luck out of everyone near and dear. Not to mention he has one of the most irresponsible set of morals and bankrupt conscience of any wise guy to ever don a three-piece suit and straight-razor in their boot. And as such, Charlie is one lonely and miserable sonofabitch.
And after his last big payout goes tits-up, Charlie is forced onto the doorstep of the one person who has more reason than most to want nothing to do with him. His son. And together they form a team, where Charlie bestows his wisdom, and Danny returns the favor in his acceptance for the man that abandoned him as a child.
Continuing his stride of gritty anti-hero action films, Johnson (THE 5TH COMMANDMENT, THE BUTCHER) manages to remain a lead driving force of ballsy, old school Badass Cinema. Following a very similar format to BUTCHER, the tale of Charlie Valentine is one of exhaustion, pain, redemption and the laying to rest of both old ghosts and new. And aside from the fact that Eric Roberts wasn’t the lead, (not to discredit Raymond Barry, who did a great job), VALENTINE is easily the best film of Johnson’s yet. It has all the same aspects that made his last films so entertaining: guns, gore, classic badass cars, gratuitous titties, Keith David. And on top of that, I didn’t feel bogged down by the first act.
Right out the gate CHARLIE has an excellent pace, and in keeping to the glorious 90 minute timeframe, doesn’t fuck around.
But, that’s not to say the film is without it’s faults. For one (though this could just be my problem), I had a hard time understanding some of Valentine’s dialogue and I found myself having to rewind to catch whatever half lucid tid-bit of gangster wisdom escaped his aging alcohol soaked lips. Which brings me to my main complaint: The music’s too loud… I SAID THE MUSIC’S TOO LOUD! I CAN’T HEAR WHAT THE PEOPLE ARE SAYING!!! The score, the ambiance, the shitty rap tracks, the whole veal scaloppine. It’s all at 11 and would do well sittin’ on about 6. Not to mention, I don’t know too many strippers in their thirties that like dancing to gangster rap. Then again, I don’t know too many strippers in their thirties or otherwise for that matter… BUT, I still think if they wanted to go for believability they could have paid for one or two Bon Jovi, or Def Leppard tunes. Or at the very least something off Mötley Crüe’s Girls, Girls, Girls. But to be fair, the copy of the film I watched was a screener-disc (thus the silly tags on all the screenshots), so the mix of the sound may have yet to be finalized. And I do appreciate all them titties, despite the crappy choice of tracks they shake back-and-forth to.
So, as you can see, my complaints are quite small. The character’s are well written, the story is fast-paced and effective, the action is well shot, total kick-ass and as unapologetically violent as it should be, but less and less is in this business. And that’s why it’s your duty, dear reader, to find and support these video store gems.* Remember, only you can prevent action pussification. Check this bad-boy out.
*Sorry to say, I have no idea when this flick is hitting shelves. But I’ll be sure and update this review, when I know for sure it is legally attainable. That is all.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Raymond J. Barry is Charlie ‘Fuckin’ Valentine
“You, my old friend, have enjoyed caviar, champagne, and more pussy than the honest con could ever dream of…”
Lord, put that on my tombstone and HAVE IT BE TRUE! Wise in his words, long in his stride and heavy in his sack, Charlie is without a doubt, one hard-boiled and suave old bastard. But somewhere, deep down, a generous soul lies. Not a scene goes by in which he doesn’t bestow some of his wisdom on mob life, good times and hooker etiquette to anyone and everyone who’s kind enough to greet him with a smile. He drinks hard, cooks well, dresses dapper, beats up men twice his size, robs from gangsters, and fucks gorgeous women half his age. Oh, and he “feels relieved” when killing. And, he’s good at it. Grandpa was never this hip or interesting… Plus, Barry kinda looks like a more able bodied Burgess Meredith. So really, there’s not a single thing I don’t find badass about this man.
[THE BODY COUNT: 20]
I must say I did not expect this high of a count from what I pre-conceived to be a more drama-driven gangster flick, but I’ll be damned if Johnson didn’t pull out another BUTCHER-like surprise kick-to-the-nuts ending shoot-out to close the curtains on the life and times of Mr. Valentine. Of the two main action sequences, 8 are killed in each, and all in incredible KNB Efx quality fashion. Limbs, chests and brains explode throwing thick ropes of ectoplasm through the air like a zombie tinker tape parade. There’s also a death by straight-razor AND a woman gets beaten to death by a little bald man. Quite impressive.
Check Out The Body Count Breakdown: COMING SOON
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
The Valentines vs. The Cage Fighter
A father and son tag match for the ages, though, Jr. can’t hold his own for nothin’. Danny gets tossed around the flophouse apartment like a rag doll in a Doberman’s mouth, crying out for daddy to break up the fight and give the bully one-for. And when a 60+ year old man can whip shit on the guy kickin’ your ass—it may be time to start hitting the gym an extra day a week. But, Danny boy’s lack of showmanship really sets up Charlie’s from-the-streets dirty fighting style, not to mention his fatality move, that really gets the job done.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Nothing overt here, but there are some mixed feelings between Papa Valentine and his brood. Danny seems a little bit too old and douche-baggie to be so concerned with learning from, and hanging out with his asshole father. Not saying he wants to outright drink from the tap of his own creation, but Danny does ditch his longtime girlfriend like she were a one-night stand when the ultimatum between her and a life of crime with dear ol’ dad is brought to the table. And at this point in the movie, Danny’s only been hanging out with Charlie for a few days. Seems fishy. They say blood is thicker than water, but a beautiful and caring girlfriend is more appealing than a selfish, mentally abusive, ex-con father any day in my book. But I’m more attracted to sexy women than old fart men, like poor Dan-O, so what do I know.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Charlie: Women are fickle. ALL women are fickle. They can be relied upon to change their minds, their rules. Forget it at your peril.
You said it Chuck. Of course, this wisdom comes from a man who abandoned his loving wife for a life of crime and paying strippers and whores to warm his bed sheets and dust the cobwebs from his rafters…
Charlie: My God, isn’t she a looker? In the daylight too, what a bonus!
Danny: Charlie—you brought home a stripper!
Charlie: I’ll take THAT as a compliment, Sweetheart.
Play-yah. And speaking of strippers….
I’d say a good fifth of the movie takes place in a titty bar, and that’s a pretty good average, considering the establishment has little to do with the plot. Sure, the Valentines rip off the club owner, and Danny does work for him, but the “heist” takes place down the street, and the showdown between the parties involved could have easily taken place elsewhere as well. And the business could’ve easily been a casino, or something else less exploitative. BUT, the director knows, man. Exposition is a lot more fun with a side order of areolas.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: Charlie Makes Good [SPOILERS]
Slipping out the door to the room of his impending doom, Charlie makes a clean getaway—that makes him feel dirty. And well it should, as he abandons his son a second time, only instead of leaving him to be raised by a single parent, this time Charlie leaves while he’s being tortured, and knows in leaving, all but assures Danny’s death. What to do? What—to—do? Well, it appears that redemption wins the battle of choices, in spite of the overwhelming urge of self-preservation and fear of a terrible death. So Charlie goes back, and makes the badder men pay for putting him in the situation of having to do the right the thing for once. And it’s glorious. I don’t want to spoil the whole scene, so I’ll just say that it involves, one old man, a dying son, a room fulla gangsters and a ballet of bullets and blood. And it’s pretty spectacular.
THE LINE: It’s a tie, and both are from the Epic Moment.
Rocco: What’d you think you’re gunna do with that gun?
Charlie: I’ll come up with something.
Rocco: Don’t chu have anything to say for yourself!?
Charlie [defiant on his knees]: My name is Charles Walter Valentine and not one of you sonsabitches in dis room has a right to see me BEG FOR MY LIFE!
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“Class is what separates the Rock Stars, from the Groupies.”
“Get tough to it, or go nuts.”
[THE CHECKLIST: 12 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel*
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] 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)
[X] 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
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice
*You can hear one on it’s way…
Charlie Valentine (2009) © American Media Group and Gorilla Pictures