Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sinners and Saints (2010): A movie review of sorts.

I have to admit that I watched the DVD of 'Sinners and Saints' (2010) because of the title, it intrigued me and I wondered at how this title was going to develop in what is basically a noir re imagining of that classic of the 1980's cop and buddy movie genre 'Leathal Weapon".

It is a movie set in post Katrina New Orleans and like a lot of movies I have seen set in the same city it does seem to have the noir quality of the disillusion with the American dream. Right from the opening shoot out it shows a cityscape broken and run down, intermixing it with the hope of a reconstruction. In fact with the motif of helicopters hovering over ' A City Of Ruins' it , without the hopeful lyrics of Green Day and U2's 'The saints are comming', along with the shot out with automatic weapons leaves you to think that this is a city that could be like any city in our war torn world. The central character anti hero Sean Reilly, whose melancholy is played very well by Johnny Strong, as we find out in the movie is ex-special forces and was at home in that environment and seems to be stuck in its savagery.

As the  film progresses and we meet the villains of the piece we see the reality that the war has indeed come home. Here are mercenaries whose means and aims are directly related to a decade of the war on terror, and in a Lethal Weapon way use the war to further there own criminal activity. Reilly's friend Colins, draws him into this shadowy world, in a similar way to Sargent Mertog's Vietnam buddy does in Lethal Weapon.

  Kevin Phillips plays  Detective Will Ganz, who Reilly, with his street smarts is thrown together with as partner trying to solve a series of brutal tortures and murders. Ganz, (again like Lethal Weapon) invites Reilly into his 'Normal Rockwell like home and family. Reilly's own past is contrast with that with the loss of his son to leukemia and a divorce.  Reilly's expertise and (to quote another noir film and book LA Confidential) his adherence to violence, protect and ultimately endanger Ganz. A relationship of trust and friendship develops between Ganz and Reilly, both from such different backgrounds.

So did I get what I was looking for in the title some deep reflection on 'Sinner and Saint' yes without disclosing how the film works out, there is a sense of redemption and change in Reilly, Ganz we also find wrestling with what is right and wrong in the face of violence and brutality.

There are some moments that made me ponder. In one scene Reilly's friend Collins says, "there are people who do not want this war to end".  A shocking admission that there are people with so much invested in the war of terror that it should be continued and supported for personal reasons, and gain.

There is a brief discussion about providence, Ganz whose father was a preacher tells Reilly after a frank disclosure of his past pain and tragic losses, that there is a silver lining to any tragedy and that it was meant to be. It is portrayed in the movie quite rightly to be a shallow and inadequate answer to Reilly's suffering.

So in the end what can I say. The movie is well acted, gritty, violent, noit an easy watch (I'm not recommending it), gripping if not a little formulaic, and in my opinion homage to Lethal Weapon, it is definitely noir. There is no real answer to the riddle of its title, 'Sinner s and saints' except possibly that there isn't that much difference between them in this movie. Maybe in the end it is a reflection on the brokenness of humanity, on a individual, relational, urban and systemic basis. There is hope for healing and wholeness and for change, friendship and hospitality are shown as possible sources for it in the movie.

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