Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes.
Written by Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias.
Starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 10/26/01
I continued my tour of San Francisco's movie
theaters this afternoon by hitting a matinee at the United Artists
Coronet theater here in town, and friends--this theater is a
top-three. Wow, wow, wow. No disrespect to the Uptown Theater in
Washington, but this theater surpasses it. How? Well, to be
honest, it is because the Coronet seats about 25% more people than
the Uptown does, so that should tell you how big this mamma-jamma
is. My current top three are the Neptune in Seattle, the Uptown in
DC and now this theater. Wow, and it's a fifteen-minute walk from
So, was the movie as good as the theater? I
was intrigued by this film originally for two reasons: the Hughes
brothers, and Johnny Depp. The Hughes brothers (Allen and Albert)
have traditionally directed urban fare (read: black movies) and
their best work thus far is probably "Menace II Society"...although,
"American Pimp" does have its moments. So, directing a
horror-thriller set in 1888 London is far from shooting in South
Central LA. And, why Depp? This role looks like it is EXACTLY THE
SAME as his role in Tim Burton's 1999 horror-thriller
Hollow." I was shocked that he would play a part so similar to this
role from the recent past.
And, I can see now why the three men worked
this project--pretty cool stuff. Mind you, now, this film is
bloody. By "bloody", I don't mean like "Oh man, her neck is
bleeding." I mean "Good Lord! Are those her intestines wrapped
around her own throat?" I mean this is some sick stuff, and it
should be understood that you don't go to the theater just after a
turkey dinner. But this film is already my front-runner for the
winner of the Best Sounds Effects Editing Oscar, because the sound
in this film is spectacular. The sound effects of people getting
cut up is one thing, but it seems like the Hughes brothers went out
and got the sounds of what each internal organ would sound like if
they were thrown to the ground. Whoa. And, I am going to hear the
sound of those horse carriage steps hitting the cobblestone in my
(It should be noted right here, though, that
in extensive tests with real-life sharp knives, the staff here at
Bellview--me--has not been able to replicate the same sound effect
of pulling a knife out and swinging it through the air. Try it the
next time you are about to cut up vegetables at home. Just wave it
around, then practice pulling the knife out of your pocket. See?
All you hear is air. Why do moviemakers think that they can fool
me? I KNOW that knife can't make that noise just when you pull it
out of your pocket! It's all a sham!)
Heather Graham appears in this movie also,
and for the 15th consecutive time, she
plays a character that is somehow
employed by or obsessed with sexual endeavors. This time, she's
denies the 17-21 year-old male public
the chance to see her breasts in the buff. Congratulations to
my good friend Brandon Pugh, who called this one once again.
High-priced actresses can be such divas! You are playing a
whore, for Chrissakes! Get naked!
The film is a little long, but for the most
part it does a good job of keeping things interesting by killing off
other whores periodically, just like the real Jack the Ripper did in
the 19th century. The attempt at romance between Graham's whore and
Depp's investigator is a bit of a stretch--romance amongst arguably
the most brutal killings in the last 200 years of London's
history?--but it makes the film palatable. And, I liked its ending
for not being overly storybook. A good time at the movies, if you
have got the stomach for it.
Rating: $8.25 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard