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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 Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

"Go," Doug Liman's film using a faster-than-a-speeding- bullet screenplay by John August, borrows mightily from the genre made famous by Quentin Tarantino, to show the frantic antics of a group of adventurous twenty-somethings. "Go," which was the hit of the recent Sundance Festival left the auditorium crammed, 1300 people staying out in the January Utah cold. We can see why. "Go" has everything the youthful generation and the young-at-heart seek from a movie, all spinning before us at high-octane tempos. The movie juggles what passes for romance among 1990s youth with car chases, drug deals gone awry, a weird cop, a hip dude that seems to have come from the 1970s blaxploitation genre, and altogether an assortment of people whose daytime jobs belie their off-hour penchants.

Dividing the non-linear story into three segments, each from a different character's point of view, "Go" at first shows us a dramatic incident in the life of a supermarket checker, Ronna (Sarah Polley), and then, by exhibiting the same actions from the viewpoints of the people with whom she comes in contact gradually allows us to see the whole picture. After his debut film "Swingers"--a hip update of "American Graffiti" with its entertaining look at single life in L.A.--Liman has come back with a better-developed, more mature black comedy with action that spills across the screen at a breakneck pace with ultra-contemporary, sharp dialogue.

The opening story, which unfolds in a more involving style than the subsequent pair, centers on young Ronna (Sarah Polley), a supermarket checker who needs $300 fast to avoid eviction on the following day. Bypassing the usual drug channels, she contacts drug dealer Todd Gaines (Timothy Olyphant) and buys 20 hits of ecstasy for two customers, Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr). Taking the bottle to her client's apartment, she senses that she is being entrapped by a police officer, Burke (William Fichtner), and takes rapid action to escape.

In the second segment, which involves Ronna's co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew), Simon and his friend Marcus (Taye Diggs) get into hot water while enjoying a lap dance in a Vegas topless bar, while in the final segment, the most awkwardly paced letdown, Zack, his actor friend Adam, and police officer Burke are working out a deal to get the young men off the hook for drug dealing only to find out that the older cop and his wife are even more adventurous and kinky than they.

Liman must have had barrels of fun shooting this thoroughly contemporary tale of mayhem and escapades. Taye Diggs stands out as Simon's friend in Vegas, where he is twice mistaken for an employee--first by a man using the bathroom who tips him for being handed a towel, then by a guy who hands him keys to park his sports car.

"Go" is loaded with all the surprises that a viewer should rightfully expect from a film with Tarantino earmarks and is highlighted by a sharp performance from Sarah Polley--who wowed the Academy and the public as a vindictive teen in Atom Egoyan's arty "The Sweet Hereafter." There isn't a mediocre piece of ensemble acting here, as Jay Mohr more than redeems himself after suffering through the torpid New Year's Eve embodied in "200 Cigarettes."

Next time you see those innocent young women pushing those frozen peas through the laser beam in the neighborhood supermarket or the kindly, nice looking fella lounging lazily in the coffee shop, you'll be able to imagine the far more potent lives they lead to compensate for the hours of mere existence. The ubiquitous posters advertising the film do not do credit to the comely Sarah Polley, nor do they justice to the zaniness that assails these buddies in this crackling good story.

Copyright 1999 Harvey Karten

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