Doug Liman's "Go" is a glittery, flashy, and fast-paced dark
comedy-thriller in the obvious style of Quentin Tarantino. Although the
basic outline is completely different, both films feature off-beat and
interesting dialogue; several dispicible, if very funny, characters; and
the same invigorating non-linear storytelling techniques.
Set entirely on Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning in L.A., "Go"
begins with a jolt as we are treated to quick flashes of a rave before
the Columbia logo is even finished. We then move on to the stories at
hand. Ronna is a 20-year-old grocery story worker who is threatened to
be evicted from her apartment if she doesn't come up with enough money
soon. Accepting to take a double-shift when her English co-worker, Simon
(Desmond Askew), goes on a trip to Las Vegas, Ronna finally sees a light
at the end of the tunnel when two of her customers, Zack (Jay Mohr) and
Adam (Scott Wolf), approach her about scoring some ecstacy. Agreeing to
sell them some, Ronna sets off to see Todd (Timothy Olyphant), a drug
dealer, but when she doesn't have enough money to pay him for the pills,
she forces her friend, Claire (Katie Holmes), to stay with him as
colateral. As predicted, things don't go quite as planned.
Switching back to the opening of the film, we now follow Simon on his
wild trip to Las Vegas with his three buddies (Taye Diggs, Breckin
Meyer, and James Duval), where he runs into problems after sleeping with
two strangers, causing a large fire, and breaking the "no-touch" rule
when he hires a stripper to dance for Marcus (Diggs) and him.
The last story involves Zack and Adam, two soap opera actors, who
unwittingly find themselves having Christmas dinner with a sexually
determined cop (William Fichtner) and his oddball wife (Jane Krakowski).
These three tales, as well as several enjoyable and well-written
subplots, one in which involves the unexpected romantic coupling of
good-girl Claire and the shady Todd, all inevitably careen and cross
paths with each other by the film's end, but many of the plot
developments really are genuinely surprising and satisfying.
There are many pleasures to be had in "Go," but one of the greatest
satisfactions is in the unorthodox way that the film is made, as it
actually leaves it up to you to use your mind and follow all of the
feuding stories. You rarely see this in a wide-release film, and
sometimes it can be distracting, but "Go" moves so smoothly through time
that it was almost impossible not to get caught up in the proceedings.
Not only that, but I am the type of person who especially loves to
discover films without having the outcome be telegraphed well in
advance. Here, there is no way to figure out how everything is going to
turn out, and it was this anticipation that involved me even more. John
August should be personally thanked for writing the sharp-witted and
entertaining screenplay, which, at a swift 100 minutes, gives the
characters enough time to have many intriguing conversations and
distinguish themselves with each other.
In the acting department, I doubt a superior young cast could have been
possibly executed, and this was an impressive career move for all
involved. Giving the best performance is Katie Holmes, who also has
likability on her side since she is, perhaps, the only non-slimy
character in the whole film. Not only that, but Holmes really does prove
how promising she is as an actress, as the words in the superb
screenplay effortlessly roll out of her mouth like wildfire. Also
particular standouts are Sarah Polley, so much different than her
sympathetic parapalegic role in 1997's "The Sweet Hereafter," and Taye
Diggs, who sparks all of his scenes to life (as if the movie didn't
already have enough life to it!).
Although "Go" may appear from the television ads like it is another
teen-oriented movie, it really isn't at all. In fact, the youngest
character is probably around nineteen or twenty, and the age group goes
all the way up to one central character who is in his forties.
Thankfully, there's no high school in sight, nor is there a prom, or a
Director Doug Liman made a splash in 1996 with his indie film,
"Swingers," starring Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, and he actually
improves upon that film to bring us something more assured and complex.
Kudos also go out to the gritty cinematography by Liman himself, which
is a spectacle to see (particularly the rave scenes), and the
perfectly-assembled soundtrack, with the song, "New," by No Doubt,
making a big impression. A goofy, hilarious sequence has another of
Ronna's friends (Nathan Bexton) hallucinating from taking a hit of
ecstacy and imagining that he is dancing with a grocery story customer
to the Macarena song.
If there is a problem with "Go," it is the same problem I had with the
slightly superior "Pulp Fiction," which is that for all of its
intricacies, the movie ultimately doesn't really lead up to much. The
twists and turns are sorted out, yes, but what I mean is that nothing
much is solved, as everything simply circles around in time.
Fortunately, the performances, direction, screenplay, and impressive
technical aspects work together as a solid unit to make the exciting
journey to nowhere a great deal of fun. In short, "Go" really does,
Copyright © 1999 Dustin Putman