I have become sickened by all the Tarantino rip-offs, too many to mention.
Almost all have none of the grace, wit or humanity that dear Quentin invests in
his own works. They are like well-designed wallpapers flung with graphic
violence, countless obscenities, and numerous rock n' roll/rap songs and
packaged as something shocking and new. Some star Michael Madsen, Martin Sheen
or Dennis Hopper. "Out of Sight" was the most dazzling but that had the
advantage of a great author, Elmore Leonard, as its basis, and Steven
Soderbergh, a stylish director. The new "Go" is different - it's as
symmetrically close to "Pulp Fiction" as you can imagine but it has an electric
energy and volume all its own.
The film begins with a supermarket checkout girl named Ronna (soft-voiced and
droopy-eyed Sarah Polley from "Sweet Hereafter") who establishes a drug
connection for two handsome soap opera stars, Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay
Mohr). Ronna's drug of choice is ecstasy, which one member of her elite group
nearly overdoses on and imagines speaking to a cat with Zen subtitles. Ronna
has to deal with the seedy drug dealer, Todd (Timothy Olyphant), who has a
propensity for sexual favors. But when her good friend, Claire (Katie Holmes),
another supermarket checkout girl, is left alone with this devil, things truly
After Ronna's predicament, we flash back to the beginning of the story told
from the point-of-view of a thick-accented, red-haired Brit, Simon (Desmond
Askew). Simon is a drug connection for Todd (Ronna is the replacement) and goes
off to Vegas with his pals, including the suave Marcus (Taye Diggs) and a
stoner who thinks he's black, Tiny (Breckin Meyer - always the pothead).
Unfortunately, after a debacle involving backroom lap-dancers ("Do not
touch!"), they are now on the run from a vicious gangster (the terrifically
oily J.E. Freeman). And it is here where we experience one of the most dazzling
car chases ever filmed to the tune of Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride."
Then the story flashes back again and we see the story told from the
point-of-view of the two soap opera stars, who are working undercover under the
tutelage of the Teutonic cop Burke (William Fichtner), a character that makes
you squirm. Burke invites the pair to a Christmas dinner that is fraught with
misunderstandings and unclear intentions. Let's just say it is a howler of a
sequence, guaranteed to keep you laughing at its inevitable payoff.
The characters, as well as the audience, experience one near-catastrophe after
another, and all the characters seem intent to make a whole 24-hour,
Rashomon-like experience as dangerously exciting as possible with no
inhibitions - they will do absolutely anything for thrills. There are
gangsters, awry drug deals, dances to the tune of "Macarena," distorted
visions, extreme violence, conversations about Tantric sex and the comic "The
Family Circus," and lots more to feast the eyes and the ears.
"Go" is suffused with electric energy throughout - there is not a moment that
is not thrilling or kinetic in any way. Director Doug Liman ("Swingers") frames
his charismatic actors with tension abounding every step of the way by means of
a constantly roving camera. The opening titles show a stroboscopic club where
silhouetted patrons dance the night away in light blue hues, and the editing is
lightning-paced. This brilliantly sets up the rest of the film's pace, and
sometimes Liman will slow down long enough to study the actor's faces.
I enjoyed all the actors on screen, but Sarah Polley has a dole-like quality
that is more realistic than the cardboard teens shown in other films - I could
not stop looking at her. Katie Holmes displays a sensuousness and a charm that
made me swoon. I also liked the merry soul of Taye Diggs, a definite
"Go" may remind many of "Pulp Fiction," but this film has its own momentum,
and plenty of style to spare. It's a crazy film that will keep you on edge -
funny, energetic, joyous, jolting, ironic, and tense. You can't ask for a
better time at the movies.
Copyright © 1999 Jerry Saravia