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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Go

Starring: Sarah Olley, Katie Holmes
Director: Doug Liman
Rated: R
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genres: Comedy, Suspense

*Also starring: Timothy Haynes, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, Taye Diggs, J.E. Freeman, Breckin Meyer, Desmond Askew, William Fichtner

Review by MrBrown
4 stars out of 4

Since the surprise success of the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film, many films have tried to become "the next _Pulp_Fiction_." Films ranging from studio efforts like the 1996 MGM release _2_days_in_the_Valley_ to the recent British indie import _Lock,_Stock_and_Two_Smoking_Barrels_ have, in the name of achieving commercial success and cinematic "cool," purloined at least one characteristic of that modern-day classic: the seedy underworld milieu, quirky canvases of characters played by large ensemble casts, twisty plot threads linking these characters, "hip" dialogue heavy with pop culture references, and--above all else--ultraviolence. More often than not, though, the films end up not so much cool but cold--as in dead (on arrival).

With its large cast, crime world setting, and timeline-overlapping storylines, _Go_, written by first-timer John August and directed by Doug Liman (who created a different brand of cinematic "cool" with 1996's _Swingers_), could not tempt failure more dangerously. Yet of all the _Pulp_ knockoffs I've seen, this is the first that truly understands and captures what made that film such a triumph. It wasn't the casting (though that definitely helped); it certainly wasn't the violence; nor was it the snappy dialogue of Tarantino and Roger Avary's Oscar-winning script--at least not that aspect of the screenplay, anyway.

The elusive quality in question is the element of realistic surprise. _Go_ spans one eventful 24-hour span, during which the life paths of Ronna (Sarah Polley), a teenage supermarket clerk who tries her hand at drug dealing; Ronna's British co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew); and friends Adam and Zack (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) constantly crisscross through Los Angeles and Las Vegas. While following these three threads, August and Liman find unpredictable yet completely plausible ways to link the stories and take them in their own wild, roller coaster-like directions--without ever falling into the cheap trap of gratuitous violence. To say anymore would be to rob the viewer of this film's greatest delight: that of discovery.

Not too far behind is the August's sharp sense of humor (suffice it to say, his hilarious dialogue and original comic situations do have snap) and the sterling ensemble. Everyone does a standout job, but especially noteworthy are Polley, so good in Atom Egoyan's _The_Sweet_Hereafter_, who takes a surefooted step toward the mainstream; Askew, a newcomer to this side of the Atlantic; creepy William Fichtner, playing a cop with a hidden agenda; and Katie Holmes and Taye Diggs shine in more secondary roles. Not to be ignored, though, are the efforts of Liman. He shows a disarming visual flair never hinted at in _Swingers_ (which was more of a script-dependent movie than a director-dependent one), and it is his guiding voice that assembles the numerous parts into a finely calibrated thrill machine.

Because of its largely youthful cast, _Go_ is in danger of--and, in fact, already has, to some extent--being pigeonholed as a "teen _Pulp_Fiction_," and given the films' similarities, that title is not entirely undeserved. But _Go_ deserves a more favorable comparison. While not in the same league as its precursor, what August and Liman have done is use _Pulp_ basics to create a film that is, by its own merits, a fiercely original and exhilarating entertainment.

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