Pretend your wife (or husband) cooks for you, and one day makes a meal that you despise. But not only is the meal awful, but your lack of interest has helped to create about a week’s worth of leftovers. Night after night, you choke down the unpleasant swill, secure in the knowledge that SURELY this is the last of the leftovers. These successive meals are the best way I can think of to describe Sylvester Stallone’s films, and Get Carter is just that: unpleasant, unappetizing, unoriginal and unwelcome.
OK, I realize that bashing Sly is like urinating; everyone over the age of 5 can do it without getting wet. But it just boggles the mind how he keeps getting work. OK, he received some (minor) accolades for his moody turn in Copland, but that was mainly due to his understated speech patterns and not because of any real acting prowess. I’m not saying the guy is a total loser, but if there has ever been a performer who exists solely thanks to his (much) earlier glories, it’s Sly Stallone. (Is it me, or has he been riding a film from 1976 for his entire career?)
Sly is a dinosaur; one of the original action studs from the 1980’s that helped to drag American Cinema into the garbage heap. In 1982, he actually slipped and made a pretty good non-Rocky movie entitled First Blood. I mention this movie because it’s a perfect example of Stallone’s career arc. In First Blood, he plays a wrongfully persecuted Vietnam Vet who ends up in a war with a small-town police chief. It was by no means a brilliant film, but it did the job. That’s the last time the words ‘quality’ and ‘Stallone’ appeared in the same sentence. The profoundly moronic Rambo sequels paved the way for this lazy ass to cram his resume full of some of the stupidest, laziest and least entertaining action films ever made, and a handful of truly painful comedies. Here’s a small sampling of why nobody ever (ever) says ‘Stallone’ when you ask them who their favorite actors are:
Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, Cobra, Over the Top, Tango & Cash, Lock Up, The Specialist, Assassins, Cliffhanger, Daylight
Oscar, Stop or My Mom Will Shoot!, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, Rhinestone
I’m sorry to have put you through that, but I just wanted to make sure we’re all on the same pathetic page when I bring up the most recent nail in the coffin of Stallone’s career, Get Carter. The very fact that I picked this one up as a DVD rental is proof enough that I’m willing to give any actor another shot, even if it is a guy who’s career batting average probably amounts to about .105, and that’s taking into account the original Rocky film, the cult fave Nighthawks, and his voice-over work in Antz. Long story short? Stallone is proof that you can become a multi-millionaire while being eternally lazy.
Get Carter is an unnecessary, unwelcome and inexplicable remake of the 1971 Mike Hodges film. The story follows a ‘dark-sheep’ brother who returns home to avenge the sudden death of his estranged brother. Since he’s been away for 5 (or was it 15? The script changes every ten minutes!) years, basically nobody likes him and they all tell him to “Fuck off!”, while some of the more interestingly-written characters tell him to “Fuck the fuck off.” When the most interesting thing you can say about Sly’s performance is that he sports a creepy new goatee, we’re not exactly talking Oscar campaign here.
The screenplay lurches inevitably from scene to scene, each one more unoriginal and predictable than the last. As is often the case in cheap knockoffs like Get Carter, there is a massive array of skilled character actors aboard, and of course not ONE of them are given anything interesting to do! What an astronomical conflagration of laziness and lethargy would have to occur to waste the combined talents of Michael Caine, Alan Cumming, John C. McGinley, Mickey Rourke and Miranda Richardson! But here it is, in all its stillborn glory.
Poor pacing and writing can sometimes be overlooked in action films, given that the action is somewhat, well, existent. Not the case here, as director Stephen Kay (who co-wrote the script for 1999’s The Mod Squad and is apparently still being punished for it) obviously thinks that pounding music and twisty camera angles will somehow make up for the absence of anything logical, exciting or even fun! The final result is as cliched and familiar a film as you’re ever likely to see.
You’d think that after a career like Stallone’s, he’d just be content to spend all his time spending his money or just counting it, surrounded by tall, naked, Italian women. But noooooooo. On the horizon is not one but TWO new Sly features, Eye See You, which has received more name changes than Elizabeth Taylor and Driven, which has been pushed back more often than Monica Lewinsky. That seems par for the course for Sly, who may one day be remembered as the action star equivalent of Ed Wood, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
There are so many ways for a movie to fail, and so few ways for it to succeed. Unless I miss my guess, Get Carter fails in nearly every facet integral to an entertaining film. Watching Stallone at this point is like watching the world’s most expensive roadkill, flapping in the breeze.