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Get Carter (2000)

Pity those in Hollywood who cast fate to the wind and remake a classic — rarely does it turn out well (just ask Gus Van Sant, whose shot-for-shot remake of Psycho was widely scorned). But then again, it's awfully easy to dismiss a big-budget rehash of anything and claim the original is better. The real question is if the remake is a good film in its own right — will it entertain folks who have never seen its predecessor? In the case of 2000's Get Carter, the answer is no. Both the 1971 original starring Michael Caine and this Sly Stallone retread credit the same novel as source material (Jack's Return Home by Ted Lewis), and the plots of both only diverge on the details, but where the former has a certain vitality and wit, the latter simply lumbers along, going through the motions of yet another Tinseltown action picture. Stallone starts as Jack Carter, a hired gun in Las Vegas (the only place in America where he'd be allowed by law to wear a suit that shiny) who learns that his brother Richie has died in the familial hometown of Seattle. Jack immediately travels to the Pacific Northwest, suspecting somebody has murdered his younger sibling, but once there he encounters a variety of gangsters and lowlifes, all who want him to leave town — no questions asked. Despite a few fun bits along the way, Get Carter bears several defects, including tons of macho posturing and concurrent bad dialogue. But perhaps worst of all is just how dull everybody is, which means a lot of talent has slipped through the hands of director Stephen Kay. Stallone — whose Carter should come with equal parts mischief and malice — turns in a one-note performance, going from setup to setup demanding information and/or promising an ass-whoopin', and he has a total of one genuinely amusing line in the entire movie (told that he's not on the list for an exclusive party, Sly unloads a haymaker on the unsuspecting fellow, explaining "Nobody likes the list-guy.") Also squandered are Miranda Richardson (as the grieving widow, and sort of like Julianne Moore on 'ludes), Alan Cumming (a sniveling dot-com billionaire who doesn't possess the smarts to hire a security team when Carter gets to town), and Rachel Leigh Cook in the pivotal niece role (made gloriously uninteresting here). Mickey Rourke does get a scene or two to shine as a sleazy porn-peddler, and even Caine has been given a bit part as a local businessman Carter may or may not be able to trust. But with Stallone's completely vacuous central performance, those who have seen the original will find themselves pining for Caine, only to have him show up intermittently in this godawful film. Distracting, weird, and one more example why Caine should choose his material more carefully. Warner's DVD release of Get Carter (2000), features a crisp anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Features include a commentary with director Kay, eight minutes of deleted scenes, trailers for the 1971 and 2000 Get Carter (the '71 spot is a total hoot), and cast notes. Snap-case.

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