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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FLAWLESS (2007)

It’s best to ignore the jarringly tone-deaf contemporary scenes that bookend this period diamond-heist pic if you want to try the plot twists & suspense in Michael Radford’s smoothly helmed caper. As an elderly maintenance man with a plan, Michael Caine hasn’t been in a film with this many ‘reveals’ since GAMBIT back in ‘66. Now a senior citizen, he works double-duty, adding the amoral string-pulling action John Abbott played in GAMBIT to his normal Michael Caine activities. And with slimy diamond brokers & two-faced insurance executives as adversaries, it’s not too hard to root for some personal payback for him and partner Demi Moore. As the oft passed-over female exec at the diamond exchange, she’s got a grudge of her own. But is she partner or patsy in Caine’s scheme to loot a small cache of gemstones? And why a small handful of rocks when there are millions? As things go awry, you can’t help but notice holes in the story (is Caine the only maintenance guy in the whole building?), but Radford keeps it moving along, even sacrificing suspense when it threatens to leave too much time to think. There’s a typically fine cast of Brit Shits for that clubby grey-suited atmosphere, but American-in-London Moore never picks up on the kidding-on-the-square tone. She plays it all too straight, reveling in the 'serious message' of those phony framing scenes and looking less flawless than clueless.

DOUBLE-BILL: They’re remaking of GAMBIT. Why not catch the 1966 original before they wreck it.

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