Movie Magazine International

Suicide Kings

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

I always take the same list to the video store only to ignore it; inevitably something else snags my attention. The same thing happens at the grocery store. I go in for broccoli and come out with beer. Why? Do I have some latent form of ADD?

I'll tell you why, because I never take into account my mood, which is how I ended up walking home with a copy of "Suicide Kings" last weekend. I'll admit, I have an unconditional lust for Christopher Walken and when you throw in Denis Leary, well, what's a cynical woman to do on a Friday night? Drink alone?

Directed by Peter O'Fallon, "Suicide Kings" stars Walken as Charlie Bartolucci, a mobster who unwittingly becomes the victim when he is kidnapped by three boarding school pals played by Henry Thomas, Jay Mohr and Sean Patrick Flannery. Thomas is Avery, whose sister, Jennifer, has been kidnapped; his buddies have hatched this foolhardy plan to get her back.

First thing, kidnap a noted mobster and use his resources to raise the $2 million dollar ransom the other kidnappers demand. Charlie spends the majority of the film taped to a chair, slowly bleeding to death, politely asking for a cocktail. Both Walken and his character float between sheer boredom and outright amusement at the antics of his young captors. For the sheer sake of entertainment, he begins to play them against one another.

The boys are criminal masters in their own minds and with the example of having a drug-addicted med student cut off Charlie's finger, their amateurish behavior affirms their inexperience. This is never more clear than when Ira, played by Johnny Galecki, makes a hilarious entrance into the scene expecting to join a poker game and instead finds a notorious mobster taped to an expensive chair with one less digit. It is his tycoon father's house - palatial home to the kind of man who marks alcohol levels - where all this ugliness goes down.

In fact, much like Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" the majority of the film takes place in one room, giving it a very play-like feel, and also, much of the story is told in hindsight.

Denis Leary is Lono, Charlie's right-hand man, and what an acerbic delight he is and the brilliance of making him the tough guy for Walken! I was in heaven! There's a great scene where he gives a drunk bum $500 to get something to eat, check into a hotel, clean himself up, get a job and get his life back. The bum takes the money, then asks for a cigarette. These are Denis Leary situations that I dream about.

© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 3/31/99

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