‘All right, boys, it's Howdy Doody time!’.
Star – Don Johnson & Sam Shepherd
Genre – Crime
Run Time –109 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – USA
Awards – 1 Wins & 8 Nominations
Amazon – £3.50 DVD (£5.39 Blue Ray)
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So who is up for some good old Southern Gothic crime noir from the Texas backwoods? Well I was, and after reading some good reviews on this, I gave it a go. I enjoy all that Elmore Leonard stuff like Get Shorty and so up for some more.
The first noticeable ingredient of this crime drama is a one Don Johnson, he of Miami Vice, not heard of since that wonderfully garish and glam 1980s crime caper that actually won him a Golden Globe for playing James ‘Sonny/ Crockett. The last decent movie I remember him in was the rather steamy ‘The Hot Spot’, with the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly. A lot of TV movies followed and then he was resurrected by Quentin Tarantino in the best QT film since Jacky Brown, the must see tongue-in-cheek Django Unchained. For Philip Michael Thomas, who played, Rico Tubbs, these was no movies after Miami Vice as he went all David Icke and headed the International Psychic Readers Network, before teaming up with his old mate in Nash Bridges. His last claim to fame was a voice on the video game Grand Theft Auto.
• Michael C. Hall as Richard Dane
• Sam Shepard as Ben Russell
• Don Johnson as Jim Bob Luke
• Vinessa Shaw as Ann Dane
• Nick Damici as Ray Price
• Wyatt Russell as Freddy
• Lanny Flaherty as Jack Crow
• Rachel Zeiger-Haag as Valerie
• Brogan Hall as Jordan Dane
Its small town 1980s Texas…
Meek hardworking family man Richad Dane (Michael C. Hall) and his wife Anne (Vinessa Shaw) are about to have a very bad day when a man breaks into their house at night. With his little son (Brogan Hall) asleep in bed he grabs his firearm and checks it out, forced to shoot the burglar when he appears to pull a gun. The next day the small townsfolk are surprised the innocuous hardware shop clerk had the bottle to do the act and quiet admiration and respect for Richard around the small town. This is Texas after all. But he is seriously shaken up by the events and constantly on edge thereafter.
Richard’s life is about to get even worse when the father of the dead burglar shows up in town with the intention of taking vengeance on the Danes. He is a formidable chap to, Ben Russell (Sam Shepard), having a rap sheet as long as his dead son. Fearing the worse Richard asks for protection from the local cops, especially after Russell breaks into his house when they are out and leaves bullets in the kitchen. The sheriff’s plan now is to use Richard as bait to lure Russell to the house and then arrest him. When the intruder flees the scene and the county it seems like the threat is over.
With his nerves relaxed and the family feeling safe once he again he notices a wanted poster in the police station for the guy he is supposed to have shot in his house. They don’t look like each other and Richard convinced they are not one of the same. Then the twists come thick and fast and when Richard rescues Russell and convinces him he did not kill his boy and he maybe still alive, neither man has any choice but to go along with a new plan to find out if the son is dead and then find the real one to confirm that. With the help of out of town and flamboyant Stetson wearing bounty hunter Jim Bob Luke (Don Johnson), who is also keen to clean up the case, that’s exactly what the trio are about to embark on.
It’s not bad although a little bit slippy and messy at times with some unlikely twists to deal with, a bit like a bowl of spaghetti. But it has a great atmosphere, cool soundtrack and enigmatic edge to it as the mystery slowly unfolds. Its doesn’t linger too long on the scene setting stuff as it slowly introduces the characters involved in the mystery, setting up Don Johnson to steal the second half of the movie with his enjoyable yeehaa turn. I’m unfamiliar with Michael C. Hall in the lead and he, too, soon overtaken by the excellent Sam Sheppard.
Its looks good and has a texture to it like no other film I have seen lately as it moves from revenge flick to corrupt cop movie and then redemption, the ending somewhat over-the-top. But it keeps you engaged throughout as the fly moves to the center of the web and the spider makes its move. I’m not quite convinced it’s the complete movie and equal to the sum of its parts but its rewarding to see something a little different in the crime genre from black guys shooting up the ghetto or some over complex court drama.
On the whole a good crisp crime noir with some decent ideas and plotting. It’s worth a look on your movie package as it hasn’t been on terrestrial TV yet and with the loss of Blockbusters one of those movies you don’t really know about that you would have before. My only issue with it is it didn’t have that wow moment or originality.
Imdb.com – 6.8/10.0 (26,324votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 86% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 73%critic’s approval
Toronto Star –‘A well-paced story that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats as it bucks and rolls in unexpected directions to a bloody and satisfying climax’.
The Independent –‘ Individual sequences are brilliantly staged and shot but the film still has the feel of a formal exercise and the plot abounds in loose ends’.
The Seattle Times –‘ Bristling with sharp surprises at every dark turn, punctuated by crackling performances from a first-rate cast and filmed with a haunting moodiness, Cold in July is a perfect little film’.
Movie Talk –‘ The 'That's for the hat' speech is a delicious bit of fun, but the film's final third is so derivative and keen to shock if feels like a different movie entirely’.
Daily Telegraph –‘ The elements of what follows are all recognisable, with organised crime, police corruption and a pornography ring all stirred into the mix, but that's part of the film's seedy charm’.
The Film Stage –‘While the unforeseen places it goes kept me engaged, unearned character motivations, and an awkward genre balance prevent this from being a knock-out exploitation noir entry’.
Guardian –‘It makes a strong start but is desperately uneven tonally, and unravels into a bizarre spaghetti-mess of dangling loose ends’.
Little White Lies –‘A film which speaks loudly and directly, but doesn't have much to say’.