Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead Review

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Five different criminals face imminent death after botching a job quite badly.


The Tarantinofication of American Independent Cinema continues with this entry in the currently thriving quirky crime genre. The Usual Suspects proved it was possible to tackle a wittily scripted heist-gone-wrong and be more than just a Reservoir Dogs-alike. Things To Do etc. doesn’t quite pull off the feat of rejigging these elements, but it does offer engaging character actors doing enjoyable schtick. It also tries, in the person of Garcia’s soft-hearted
ex-gangster (unsubtly named Jimmy The Saint), to bring a moral dimension to a genre which too often indulges in admiration for utter scum just because they talk so cool and point guns at each other with insouciance.
Jimmy is called back into the criminal life by his crippled boss The Man With A Plan (Walken at his most relishably venomous), and given the job of scaring off the new boyfriend of the ex-fiancée of Walken’s simple-minded son and heir. Jimmy puts together a team of eccentric lowlifes: biker William Forsythe (who is to biker leathers what Helena Bonham Carter is to period frocks), leprous Christopher Lloyd (his fingers fall off), doomed Bill Nunn and, most entertainingly, crazed Treat Williams (“I am Godzilla, you were Japan”). Naturally, the sorry crew foul up, and Walken has to call in genre staple hit man Steve Buscemi to track them all down and do them in.
Alongside the fun crime stuff, which involves much sitting around a diner exchanging sparky repartee, Garcia has time to involve himself with contrasting women: the impossibly angelic Anwar and grunged-out hooker Fairuza Balk. Writer Scott Rosenberg follows the easy assemble instructions for Quentindom too closely and director Gary Fleder clearly enjoys the cynical comedy more than straining-for-significance relationship stuff. From now on, indie filmmakers would do well to think up another plot, but this one last time the heist-gone-wrong story clicks.

Cool lines and cool characters make this a way above average crime drama. Walken,as usual, is brilliant.