True to most Walken roles, Brad Sr. is in up to his eyeballs in the crime world, and soon leads his sons down the career path he has chosen for himself. Brad Sr. has a “gang” if you can call a handful of losers with questionable IQs a gang! Now understand, this is no band of bank robbers we are talking about, but rather an eclectic collection of small time hoods who steal everything from farm equipment to fine art. Things are complicated when Brad Jr. falls in love with sixteen year old Terry, (Mary Stuart Masterson; The Postman, The Florentine) who has her own set of troubles at home.
Predictably, things soon begin to go very wrong, when Brad and the boys run into a former associate of Brad Sr.’s named Lester, (Jake Dengey; Four Eyes And Six Guns, Diary Of A Hitman) who is working as an informant for the police, who are very interested in Brad Sr.’s activities. After seeing Lester in a restaurant with a police detective, Brad Sr. decides to find out exactly what the dinner time topic of conversation might have been. When Lester tells him that the locals have called in the FBI for help in catching him, Brad Sr. decides it is time to start tying up the loose ends that might other wise be braided into a rope for his hanging.
As I said, the cast is a strong one, but a sculptor is only a good as the clay he is given to work with, and in this case, writer Nicholas Kazan provided his artists with river mud. This script was a little disappointing, considering that Kazan gave us stories such as Bi-Centennial Man (1998; Robin Williams, Sam Neill) and the riveting Fallen (1998; Denzel Washington, John Goodman).
The best aspect of seeing this film now, fifteen years after it was released, was seeing the venerable Christopher Walken in his prime, and seeing the brothers Penn in a much younger incarnation.
All in all, At Close Range is not a total waste of your movie viewing time, and you should definitely see it if you are a fan of Walken’s work as I am; but keep in mind that this is a story line nearly as old as Hollywood itself, with an ending that you can guess half way through the film.
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