Played (2006) / Drama-Thriller

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would definitely be R for strong language and some nudity
Running Time: 84 min.

Cast: Mick Rossi, Patrick Bergin, Vinnie Jones, Andy Nyman, Joanne Whalley, Roy Dotrice, Steve Jones, Val Kilmer, Bruno Kirby, Gabriel Byrne, Patsy Kensit, Sile Bermingham, Meredith Ostrom, Adam Fogerty, Anthony LaPaglia
Director: Sean Stanek

Screenplay: Mick Rossi, Sean Stanek
Review published December 31, 2006

Mick Rossi stars as Ray Burns, a two-bit London thief who gets hired by Riley (Bergin, Ella Enchanted), a criminal with working ties to a crooked cop named Brice (Vinnie Jones, Submerged).  The job gets botched, two of the other men end up dead, while Ray ends up serving eight years in prison.  When he gets out, the father of one of the dead men, a powerful crime boss named Jack Rawlings (Dotrice, Amadeus), hires Ray to take out Riley for revenge.  Ray travels to Los Angeles to put Riley on ice and to get a mysterious incriminating tape for Rawlings, but complications come in to play when the cops start nosing around, as well as a series of double-crosses within the criminal underworld that has Ray unsure if he's doing the right thing.

The first thing you'll notice about Played before you see the movie is that it does boast an impressive cast of actors.  The first thing you'll notice when you actually watch the film is how cheap the film looks and feels.  The first question you'll ask as you continue to watch the film, provided you aren't so turned off by the cheap production to give up altogether, is just what the motivation was for every single one of these famous actors to be in a film that has no script, no budget, and no real chance at financial success.  The only possible answer could be that many strings were pulled among friends (Rossi has strong connections in the Irish community, securing the likes of Byrne (Assault on Precinct 13), Bergin, and many others) to get the thing made.  Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and writer-star Rossi, formerly a guitarist for the punk group, Slaughter and the Dogs, are also musicians who've collaborated together.  Sometimes it's not what you know but who you know that helps to make a star-studded production with no money.

The real problem with a film that has no budget, no production values and no script is that it actually plays like a film that has no budget, no production values, and no script.  About the only thing that can keep the interest of many viewers will most likely be the nonstop cavalcade of recognizable names and faces that continuously appear throughout the film.  Without that aspect, it's pretty much as dull as it gets in the gangster drama realm, as this hard-boiled crime thriller features an uninteresting story featuring characters we care next to nothing about, told in a convoluted fashion.  People live, people die, but at no time do we feel a thing for any of them.

With dialogue that is mostly improvised, the appeal of Played resides mostly as an experiment in acting than it does as a form of entertainment fit for your average moviegoer.  The hand-held camera, straight-to-digital textures don't much lend for pretty pictures, and with guerrilla-style, no permit filmmaking techniques, the lack of quality lighting and the hurried pace is sometimes evident.  For what kind of movie it is, I suppose it's something sort of remarkable, purely in an external fashion, as far as what kinds of movies can be made very cheaply.  However, just because someone can back a film with big names and of a reasonable enough quality to make sense, that doesn't really mean that we should applaud the finished product just because we respect the effort itself.

Qwipster's rating

©2006 Vince Leo