Romeo Is Bleeding Review

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Jack is a corrupt police officer with a long-suffering wife Natalie and a young mistress Sheri. In the witness protection programme, Jack sells the whereabouts of key informants to the mafia. He more than meets his match, however, when his hired to kill Russian assassin Mona.


Director Peter Medak has already proven himself perfectly competent when it comes to the low-budget, low-key style of filmmaking (The Krays, Let Him Have It), but the tight discipline he demonstrated so ably in the past unravels here into an untidy creative mess on his transition to Hollywood.

A black comedy, as this tries so hard to be, clearly demands more controlled performances than is apparent, with all four actors running away unchecked with a script which really isn't up to the pace, and finishing up with something neither black nor terribly funny. Oldman is Romeo, a bent New York cop who sells inside information to the Mob in between lying to his smarter-than-she-appears wife (Sciorra) and bedding his dizzy mistress (Juliette Lewis).

He finally meets his match in Olin's hitwoman from hell, who turns informant for the cops in return for her freedom, does a dirty deal with Oldman in return for her life, then crosses everybody so many times in an already convoluted plot it's a wonder she, let alone we, can remember whose side she's supposed to be on. Oldman, of course, can't resist her charms, and a peculiar lust/hate game of cat-and-mouse ensues, with the Mob forever bringing up the rear. It's good to see Olin finally hang up her Serious Actor hat and get a bit outrageous, but this was obviously a great deal more fun to make than it is to watch.

Never content with one cliché when it can shovel on ten, Romeo Is Bleeding — to borrow a quote from the film's own press notes — "would be a comedy if it weren't a tragedy".