Criminal Activities (2015)

If you've ever seen the well-acted, well scripted movie Suicide Kings, that movie had its flaws that needed to be addressed, but it was a decent movie on the whole. The idea behind that movie was that a group of guys found themselves in the situation where they needed to do something that they had no experience with - kidnapping a mobster, tying him to a chair, and then the drama unfolds between a group of guys with internal struggles.

Well, you now have the plot for this movie. Instead of Christopher Walken as the mobster, though, you have John Travolta with a distressing hair line. It would be unfair to John to compare him to Christopher Walken, as the two roles reflect differing attitudes. After all, Christopher is an older statesman (even in 1997) and John is just about the right age for a guy who has risen to power and is enjoying the bubble. John doesn't overact in this role as he has done in the past, but whoever decided the bird-hair was a good idea needs to stop working with hair.

Michael Pitt leads this group of amatures. He was very good in Funny Games, and I also liked him in Boardwalk Empire. In this movie, he's a crazed, uncontrolled office worker who never really settles on his character. It's hard to settle on a character who is written so poorly, so I can't entirely blame him. He's obsessed with finding out if his girlfreind is cheating on him, he yells orders at everyone all the time, doesn't seem particularly good at his job, and he's generally an unlikable person.

Dan Stevens plays the whiny, soft, and annoying friend from college who gets the group a bunch of money to buy stock in a sure thing that falls through. That money, as you have no doubt guessed, came from Travolta. So, when the sure thing falls through, the group in in his debt - and they have to kidnap someone for Travolta in order to clear the debt. Dan played Matthew on Downton Abbey, and I have seen every episode of that show without having recognized him in this movie. He lost a bunch of weight, has some messed up hair, and generally gets right into his role.

The only other guy I recognize is Jackie Earle Haley. You may remember him as Rorschach from Watchman or the disappointing role of Freddy in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Well, he plays the smart and sometimes funny henchman who gets things done and takes everything in stride. So, if I were to call back to Suicide Kings again, he replaces Dennis Leary. His role is very one dimensional, and his fills the dimension just fine.

No more red hair, but Rorschach still scares me.
The most upsetting thing about this movie is that it tries to build a twist in a few times, and the twists either don't make sense, aren't interesting, or really don't matter. By the end, I really didn't care about the characters or anything that happened to them because I never got the idea that any of them were worth giving a crap about. Now, I only watched this movie because it got generally favorable reviews from IMDB, Metacritic, and Rotten Tomatoes. I don't know what these people were thinking.

Acting was generally pretty good
Story was very simple
Dialogue was weak
Character development was minute
Direction was weak

Bottom Line: If I were you, I'd go back and watch Suicide Kings instead.



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