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The Real McCoy Review

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A successful cat burglar is blackmailed into the biggest hit of her life when someone takes her son hostage. The ransom is $18 million from the most secure bank in town. With her parole officer and best friend working for her son's kidnapper, it appears she has no choice but to accept the offer.

★★★★★

Karen McCoy (Basinger) is a cat burglar out on parole after a six-year stint in the can. Foiled in her attempts to earn an honest crust in Atlanta, she is black­mailed into robbing $18 million from the city's most secure bank for crime boss Jack Schmidt (Stamp) who betrayed her last time around and who is holding her son Patrick (who thinks his mum's gone to the great catflap in the sky) to ransom. With her parole officer and her only friend, bungling crook J.T. Baker (Kilmer), both working for Schmidt, there is little option but to play ball.

The idea of a female burglar is a fine premise, but director Mulcahy is happy to treat Basinger like a model entering "designer parole" — all streaming sunlight, steam and the latest fashions — and weighs her down with some child-that-never-knew-her garbage. Basinger looks like she's just had a meeting with her accountant, Kilmer is criminally under-used, and Stamp is simply bewildering, his accent so wayward that Schmidt must have at one stage been a dialect coach, so adept is he at jumping from Deep South to East End.

As a former pop video maker, Mulcahy here flexes his populist muscles more effectively than his story-telling skills, resulting in a few flashy set pieces but no coherent whole. We get a Milk Tray advert for an opening and some attempted fireworks throughout, but the script sounds like it too did hard labour. Ultimately there are far too many holes and errors here, and by the time you get to the Fish Called Wanda-style ending you may already have worked out how to blow the cinema safe and get your money back.

Although Basinger has proved she can act in 8 Mile and LA Confidential, this isn't one of her strongest moments. With a director who has previously made music videos, it's clear that's what he thought he was doing here, with the end result a stylish product just with poor substance.

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