Retro Review: Get Carter

Written: October 11, 2000

Sylvester Stallone returns to his roots as the action star we know and love. Can he still carry the gauntlet?

Stallone stars in a remake of the 1970’s classic “Get Carter” which originally starred Michael Caine.

In this version, Stallone stars as Jack Carter, a Vegas thug who returns to his hometown to attend his brother’s funeral.

As he asks a couple questions about the mysterious death of his brother he uncovers clues and a seedy plot buried in his brother’s past. The lynch pins in this plot seem to originate with an ex-acquaintance of Carter’s (Mickey Rourke), a club owner (Michael Caine) and a slimey software developer played by Alan Cumming. Carter also has to take under his wing the care of Carter’s brother’s wife and daughter. They are played by Miranda Richardson and Rachel Leigh Cook.

“Get Carter” is one of the best action films I have seen in a while. This is the type of film that last summer’s “Gone in 60 Seconds” should have been. The car chases were grim and exciting and the whole film’s seedy underworld felt like an underworld.

I liked how the plot enveloped different angles from the first film as it updated itself. Stallone is no where near as blood-thirsty as Caine in the original but his tender side does add to the audience relating to the thug. Also these small elements of emotion were pivotal in the film’s hidden plot.

Even though this was definitely a Stallone vehicle it stilled allowed a lot of Stallone’s supporting cast to shine. These performances were by Rachel Leigh Cook and Alan Cumming.

I liked Cook’s tortured daughter who has her innocence stripped away a layer at a time. I loved the always enjoyable Alan Cumming as a spoiled “Bill Gates” kind of guy trying to protect his obvious imperfections. The scene where Carter drags his out of the party and for a joyride is priceless and really shows Cumming is becoming a notable character actor.

Approaching his mid fifties, Stallone still seems to be able to pack a wallop. I would have liked a long exhausting fight at the end between Rourke and Stallone. In the party fight scene Stallone took a couple punches just like “Rocky” might and that made me cheer “Rocky, Rocky” until I was brought back to earth. I would have liked to have seen more of this adrenaline. I was a little perturbed at the lighting also for when Stallone and Rourke clashed.

Speaking of lighting, that for me was one of the problems associated with viewing this film. I liked that the grays and blues harnessed the seediness but some things were a little hard to see.

Another flaw I found was in Miranda Richardson who seemed to be wasted as the brother’s wife.

Her character seemed clichéd and absent a lot when maybe we should have had a couple more scenes between Carter and her. Other than those I enjoyed the film.

I am not exactly sure why Warner Bros. tried to cover up this movie (hiding it from press screenings) when if it was promoted better it could have been received better. They could have been scared about its comparison to the original which is such a cult phenomenon. Still it was tons better than the “Gone in 60 Seconds” remake.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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