Way back all those many days ago at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, I got a chance to take an early look at Give ‘Em Hell Malone, the noir thriller starring Thomas Jane and Ving Rhames. For all intents and purposes this is a review of the film, though I’m not calling it as such because the film isn’t finished. As we speak probably nothing is happening because Hollywood types generally nap around 3:30pm as I write this, but no doubt during business hours tomorrow people will be talking, wheeling, dealing and trying to weasel more money into or out of the project. What’s missing now is some time in the edit bay, color timing and correction, and a few more music cues. Other than that, the experience is probably pretty close to the final product – unless of course some more money can be put into the film.
Give ‘Em Hell Malone follows the titular character of Malone as he comes into possession of a mysterious suitcase said to contain the meaning of love. The object within the case is of great interest to a local mob boss looking to go legit, so he dispatches a trio of nick-named enforcers, Boulder (Ving Rames), Matchstick (Doug Hutchinson), and Mauler (Chris Yen) a female assassin who hides knives in her hoo-ha. Tangled up in the mix is, of course, the beautiful dame with a need for a private dick, in this case played by the lovely Elsa Pataky. Things aren’t as clear cut as they seem and soon the story overflows with betrayal, violence, and the mythology of tearing a man’s heart out with your bare hands.
First time writer Mark Hosack, whom I spoke to after the screening, explained that the script was his shot at an over the top action movie which he mixed in with a bunch of noir. This draft was sent off to Tom Jane’s production company, Raw Studios, which got the actor interested. Jane himself became very involved with the production, picking out Malone’s wardrobe, his Mateba Autorevolver handgun, and his kick ass car. The film was directed by Russell Mulcahy, an Australian who helmed Resident Evil: Extinction and more importantly, Razorback.
Malone starts off with a bad-ass action sequence that sees Jane’s detective blast his way through a whole apartment complex of bad dudes, spilling blood, breaking bones, blasting off noses, and wrecking cars. There are ample amounts of comedy mixed in once the violence momentarily quells before the title credits, designed by artist Tim Bradstreet (The Punisher, Scalped) roll. The audience I was with seemed to enjoy the film, as did I, and I think the key is accepting the tone of the film which I dubbed “noir camp.” The film isn’t set in the past judging from the contemporary surroundings, but the characters seem right out of a crime noir book a la Brick. I add camp to the mixture because the movie is fun and rarely too serious with plenty of one-liners, jokes, and seemingly self-referential nods to the genre.
In the acting department, Tom Jane turns in another bad-ass performance which makes you wish for more Malone – the character is a cool tough guy with a tender secret and there’s more to his story for us to see. Elsa Pataky is effective as the broad in distress, Ving Rhames is commanding and French Stuart has a hilarious role in the flick. If I had one problem with the acting, and the movie, it was Doug Hutchinson who seems to have forgotten that Punisher: War Zone wrapped years ago, because his scarred pyromaniac Matchstick seems to be channeling Loony Bin Jim, a performance he should strike from his otherwise positive resume.
It would be a shame for people not to see Give ‘Em Hell Malone should it get mishandled in the shuffle. The movie is good as is and can only be improved in the edit room. The budget is low so some of the CGI effects are less than stellar, but the practical work is cool with a great car accident. Word circulating is that the film is being pushed towards a direct to DVD release, though I’m sure it will find an audience there. This is the kind of genre melder that could easily find a cult following in the home video market. I’m ready to see it again and would definitely follow Malone and his hard drinking, ass kicking ways into a sequel. If you get a chance to catch a screening of this film, go for it. In the mean time, keep your eyes here for any updates on whether or not it makes it into theaters and when it hits on DVD down the road. Bottom line? Tom Jane does what Tom Jane does – kicks ass – as a hard boiled detective in this flick that mixes noir, camp, violence, and cool into a kick ass ride.