Review: ‘The Bag Man’

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The Bag Man, starring John Cusack and Robert De Niro, opens in a handful of movie theaters this weekend (“handful” = 1 screen only in each of a few major markets). It’s also available from most Video on Demand services if you don’t want to leave the house.

De Niro is operating in full anything-for-a-paycheck mode here. The best guess is that he filmed all his scenes in less than a week and he gets to rock a poufy hairstyle and some chunky glasses while spouting philosophical gangster dialog.

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De Niro plays Dragna, some kind of crime boss who employs John Cusack’s Jack, a retired hit man that Dragna’s determined to pull back in. Cusack is operating in his full exasperation mode here and comes off like and old and exhausted version of his hit man from Grosse Point Blank.

There’s a bag he’s supposed to pick up (but definitely not look inside) and a motel managed by Crispin Glover, who offers up what might be the worst Louisiana accent in the history of movies. There’s an odd assortment of characters at the motel, many of whom try to kill Jack.

Jack eventually allies with a 6-ft tall hooker played by Brazilian model Rebecca da Costa. Eventually everyone finds out what’s in the bag and there’s hell to pay.

I’m a guy who thoroughly enjoyed The Killer Elite, The Family, Last Vegas, Freelancers and Limitless. I even sat through Killing Season with John Travolta’s ridiculous beard. I know Robert De Niro’s less high-minded work over the last decade and I’m willing to say this is the most ridiculous movie he’s made during that run.

If it’s late, you’re bored and/or well-lubricated and you made it all the way through Killing Season, you might go ahead and hit the “buy” button on your remote. No regrets here.

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1 Comment

  1. darci says:

    Great cast, promising premise, and lots of great camera work, but the movie just tries too hard and has some really cringe-inducing dialogue scenes. Still, I love John Cusack and Robert DeNiro (and both do as good of a job as they can in this movie) and I think overall the film is getting a little too harsh of reviews based on high expectations.

    The good:

    - The acting — well done by all involved.
    – The music — lots of good use of music, I particularly liked how they used \“Beacon\” by Fellow Bohemian during the scene where Jack returns to the motel and Ned watches him from the office. The music plays in the background in Ned’s office. I wonder if John Cusack was involved in music selection, he always seems to have good tunes in his movies, especially the more indie ones.
    – The action scenes — well shot and convincing.

    The bad:
    – The bag — tried way too hard here, instead of using restraint like Pulp Fiction.
    – Overly scholary dialogue — sorry Mr. Writer, your Sun Tzu references impress nobody

    Overall a solid movie, but leaves you wishing it could be something more.