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Pawn (2013) DVD Review

A movie review article by: Jason Sacks

I really wanted to enjoy Pawn, but this film never was able to persuade me to care about it. Instead, I just found Pawn annoying. I wish I knew why.

Maybe my problem was the presence of Michael Chiklis in this movie. His character has a strong cockney accent that was extremely distracting and extremely annoying. I just couldn't get comfortable with that voice coming out of Vic Mackey's mouth. At least he doesn't slip up in his use of the inflection – Chiklis is at least consistently irritating. The accent was an interesting stylistic choice, but man, Michael Chiklis's voice bugged the heck out of me as I sat through Pawn.

Or maybe my problem was the presence of Forest Whittaker in this movie, in essentially a throwaway role. Whittaker's character is like a ghost onscreen – appearing for a few minutes in order to complicate this twisty plot before being conveniently rushed offscreen when his attendance was no longer needed. I spent more time wondering if Whitaker agreed to be part of this project as a favor to Chiklis – who also acted as a producer - than I did thinking about Pawn's twisting storyline.

 

 

Or maybe my problem was the presence of Ray Liotta in this movie – poor, sad, Ray Liotta who was once one of our most prominent, famous actors thanks to electrifying roles in flicks like Goodfellas, Something Wild and Field of Dreams, now forced to play underdeveloped generic bad guys in B-movies.

Or my the problem was the presence of Common in this movie, who reads his lines in a dull monotone that shows how bored he seems to feel about showing up to collect his paycheck.

But whatever my problem was with it, at no time did this movie ever grab me and make me feel invested in its characters. Pawn didn't get me excited in any way.

 

 

Pawn is a hostage drama that takes place inside a big city diner. Chilkis and his crew walk into a seedy diner one evening, guns drawn, looking to grab some money. As the story unfolds, we learn more about the reasons why Chilkis and co. are sticking up this innocent-seeming greasy spoon. The domino logic of Pawn's story takes many twists and turns, involving multiple double crosses, corrupt cops, and the obligatory ex-con (played well by Sean Faris) looking for redemption, but the winding plot simply don't amount to much. The complexities of the script just don't add up to anything more than more twists for to move the arbitrary story forward. There's none of the thrill that we viewers crave where we get to play along with a movie that has a pleasing sort of complexity, glorying in glorious reveals that viewers realize in retrospect that we could have predicted. There's no chance to be pleasantly jolted as the screws tighten around these characters. Even with the way that the script plays with the element of time, the winding plot in Pawn never feels like it has enough foreshadowing or depth to make its domino logic intriguing.

 

 

This all should be good B-Movie fun, but none of these elements really come together in a satisfying way. Everything feels arbitrary and unfinished somehow, like the script by Jay Anthony White. Pawn isn't gritty or stylistic or intense or intriguingly complex enough to keep the viewer interested. Even at 88 minutes, with all the (dull) twists and turns in its story, Pawn feels too long.


Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him atjason.sacks@comicsbulletin.com or friend him on Facebook.

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