4 sept. 2013

My Review: Empire State (5/10)

"It's been reported that over 9 million dollars were taken in last night's heist."

Empire State surprisingly begins with a lot of promise. The beginning of the film sets the right mood and tone with an incredible 80's vibe bringing out some nostalgic memories. It had the right look and some interesting characters and the story is based on true events of one of the largest heists in American history. I thought I was going to enjoy this criminal thriller, but about half hour into the movie everything began to go downhill. Dwayne Johnson and Emma Roberts who were on the cover of the film are only supporting characters who get very little screen time. You begin to see characters come in and out of the story without any real purpose (Nikki Reed barely has a meaningless cameo in this). The true lead actors in Empire State are Liam Hemsworth and Michael Angarano, and their characters are portrayed in such a light that we are supposed to sympathize with these guys, but that never happens. Director, Dito Montiel (whose previous work include Fighting and The Son of No One both starring Channing Tatum), never manages to engage the audience with the film and it's disappointing because he had some talented actors and a great premise to work with. Overall the ending is probably the weakest and laziest part of the film after having a somewhat interesting buildup. The script was written by Emmy Award winning writer, Adam Mazer (You Don't Know Jack), and this is probably his weakest film. Montiel hasn't had much success in his films, but somehow he always manages to work with a high profile cast; if he doesn't do something different he is going to have a short career as a director. 

The film is based on a true story about a heist that took place at Empire State armored truck company. Chris Potamitis (Liam Hemsworth) is a young kid who dreams of becoming a cop in order to help his family out. Unfortunately due to an incident that took place a few years ago with his best friend, Eddie (Michael Angarano), he is rejected by the Police Academy and is denied the test. Chris has to settle for working as a security guard at an armored truck company which doesn't pay much. To make matters worse, his partner is killed at a heist and the company doesn't pay the insurance for his family. Upset by this, Chris decides to steal a small amount of money from the company in order to help them out. He tells his friend Eddie about this and Eddie thinks it's a good idea to steal the millions of dollars that are stacked at this place with little security. Along with some other small time criminals, they plan to take it all, but they have to be careful because NYPD, James Ronsone (Dwayne Johnson) is hot on their trail. They will also have to watch out for the big mafia criminals who wouldn't appreciate a heist taking place in their area without their knowledge. Stealing the money might not be such an easy task as Eddie and Chris believe it to be. 

Emma Roberts, Jerry Ferrara, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Michael Rispoli all play very small roles in this film. This is Dwight Johnson's fifth film of 2013 but this is by far his smallest and most forgetable role. Liam Hemsworth doesn't have what it takes to be a lead and so it was very hard to care for these characters and what was going on. The premise was promising, but somehow they couldn't create a decent criminal thriller that would engage the audience. It is a shame because this story could have been told so much better and some of the actors could have been used better. Overall I enjoyed the 80's vibe and the nostalgic feeling the first 30 minutes gave me reminding me of all the films I watched as a kid during that time. The last hour is so messy that it just ruined everything. The characters are completely one dimensional and cardboard copies and the film is completely predictable.


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