Clive Owen, the man who is said to be the number one contender for 007 when Pierce says “Peace”, in a movie with Malcolm McDowell who can easily play a stone cold bad ass like its nobody’s business. You would think that would spell one kick ass revenge flick imported from across the pond. Well sadly this import needs to be deported. Long story short, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead......I Slept While I Watched! [Josh’s Note: Cheesy, Entertainment Weekly-like one liners used in this review do not necessarily reflect the intelligence level of Cinema Blend or its subsidiaries.]
After revenge flicks like Quentin Tarantino’s kung fu epic Kill Bill and a “re-envisioned” adaptation of The Punisher, one would think all the genre bases have been covered, from all out kick ass to total suckitude. I figured I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead would easily fall somewhere in the middle. I was wrong. The flick is a total waste of potential. The end result is, by far, the most boring cinematic experience I’ve had since Reign of Fire.
Clive Owen is Will Graham (no relation to Edward Norton in Red Dragon), a retired tough guy sporting the “Forrest Gump while running across America look”. It seems Will must come out of retirement to avenge and investigate the death of his little brother Davy (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Sounds okay right? Well sadly, Will doesn’t even find out his brother died until half way through the flick. After that all he does is sit there and talk and talk. Even when you think business is about to pick up, in never does. Will is closing some curtains and questioning a guy saying, “I’m Davey’s brother” and immediately you would think this guy is gonna get a major league ass kicking. No. Cut to Will standing behind the closed curtain...TALKING TO THE GUY. What a jip.
You know what it’s like when you see a comedian doing a really bad impression? It’s painful to watch, it just isn’t working, and you really wish somebody would put him out of his misery. Well, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a lot like a really bad Stanley Kubrick impression. This movie reeks of Kubrick and if he were alive today and directed this then maybe I would accept it. But this flick is just a really bad mockery, complete with obligatory freaky musical score and a Malcolm McDowell led rape scene. Also like Kubrick, this movie is all talk. Talk talk talk talk talk. Just when you think it’s getting interesting, just when you think Owen is gonna seriously kick some ass, it totally craps out. Every scene is long and tedious exposition. When Will does talk, that’s when Clive Owen’s soft deep voice becomes almost hypnotic, which isn’t a good thing because it takes him about three minutes into every scene for him to start yakking. I was starting to nod off for a bit in the middle.
I blame the script. It’s just atrocious. How can they show a rape scene in the beginning and then try to make as if it were an unknown plot twist towards the end of the second act? How does that work? The script throws away any potential ending that would’ve justified that slow build up. After a shave and a haircut, gone is Will’s little frumpy lumberjack get up and in is the squeaky clean, suite wearing Clive Owen. When Will finally confronts his brother’s rapist, Boad (phoned in by McDowell), Will asks him why. Unlike Bill in Volume II there was no “Superman” monologue. Instead there’s a reason. Now that’s all well and good as long as the protagonist gets a decent, clever, and final word in. After Boad’s explanation, Will responds with the most memorable and most creative comeback to a bad guy monologue in the history of cinema. “I am going to kill you”. Are you freaking kidding me? They invented the language we butcher on a daily basis, and that is the best line they could come up with?
What happened to the times when us Yanks would beat a genre or premise to death only to have the Brits come out of nowhere and make it fresh and highly entertaining? After being misled by the trailer and over-hyped about the cast, the joke is on me. Luckily enough I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a limited release and won’t saturate our airwaves, bus stops, or sporting events. Mike Hodges is the American equivalent of Francis Ford Coppola. He made some pretty cool flicks in the 70's, but then came the 80's and laid him to rest. The poster says “From the director of Croupier and the original Get Carter”. Sadly, his work on I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead makes his work on Flash Gordon look like Welles cranking out Citizen Kane.