by Chris Learned Kane, Reporter
A night shift cop on a routine visit to his favorite diner interrupts a robbery in progress. And that’s nearly all I can say without giving away key pieces of Pawn, a compelling straight to DVD crime flick from first time director, David A Armstrong. Pawn contains some attractive elements: the story is told in anachronic flashback, the setup is deliciously intriguing (what team of professional thieves robs a nearly empty diner at 11:30pm?) and the cast is top shelf (Academy Award Winner Forrest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland, Where the Wild Things Are) Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, A Place Beyond the Pines) Steven Lang (Avatar, Conan the Barbarian 2011) and Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four).
The Cast is impressive and delivers on every level. Michael Chiklis is well known for his intensity and physical presence, but to these attributes he adds a spot on cockney brogue (an accent that if not handled with subtlety and nuance, devolves into ugly mockery of Dick Van Dyke proportions). Ray Liotta has less than 10 minutes of combined screen time, but turns in a chilling, psychologically intense performance. I would have liked to have seen Whitaker and Common switch roles, but both turn in strong performances. Solid cast, tight performances. Well done!
Anachronic Story Telling: I’m a bit of a sucker for telling a story out of sequence, (Pulp Fiction, Irréversible and Memento are three in my ever fluctuating top 50 films of all time) and Pawn does an excellent job of using this story telling device to twist and turn your expectations.
Twister: I must give props to writer Jay Anthony White (Project 313, One Hour) for pulling some wool over my eyes. I fell for his trick (as will you) despite the clue I caught and failed to decipher correctly (more below).
The (not so) Bad: In an age of the unnecessarily bloated film, an 88 minute feature is rare. And though I thank them for not challenging my bladder or my attention span, I feel the abbreviated length affected the pace and prematurely resolved the tension. There is a lot going on in Pawn and not a lot of time, so it feels a bit crowded and like not enough attention was paid to the development and resolution of the subplots.
Twister: I fell for it. However the clue I picked up on made me feel the writer was less than first rate (think framing device and omniscience). After the final trick is played, the twist comes off a bit gimmicky and contrived… But I guarantee you’ll fall for it as well!
The Ugly: Nuttin’ ugly here!
Audio and Video
Pawn looks and sounds great: Sharp contrasts and the Dolby TrueHD will give your speakers a work out from the subtle (background music and conversation) to the explosive action sequences.
- Pawn: Behind the Scenes
Overall: If you’re a fan of police dramas then this flick is tailor made for you! Great cast, great performances and solid writing make for a compelling, but too short, film!
ComicsOnline gives Pawn 3.5 incriminating hard drives out of five!
Academy Award- winner Forest Whitaker and Golden Globe- winner Michael Chiklis reunite for the first time since "The Shield" for the most gripping crime thriller of the year: An all-night diner. A cop walks in on a robbery in progress. But what happens next - and what happened just before - will change everything you think you know. Now the building is surrounded. There are fingers on every trigger. And one very intense hostage situation is about to take some extremely shocking twists. Common, Stephen Lang, Nikki Reed, Jessica Szohr and Ray Liotta co-star in this shotgun blast of a drama about last chances, double-crosses and a deadly game of dirty deals where anyone can be a PAWN.