Having (proudly) missed all of Michael Bay's work since Bad Boys 2, I was pleasantly surprised when it was announced that the big time director would slum it with the rest of us and make a quiet indie crime film with a considerably smaller budget. I was considerably less impressed when it was revealed that the budget would sit at $25 million (hardly chump change), but I guess when you compare it to that of the last Transformers' movie budget ($195 million), it’s an amiable step down. Thankfully, Bay redeemed himself in my eyes in the form of a ragtag cast with indie and bizarre credits: with Mark Walhberg playing against his buddy cop image, and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson/Anthony Mackie bringing the laughs. Admittedly I'll watch anything with the aging wrestler thanks to Fast Five (2011), but a quirky trailer with genuine laughs sealed the deal.
Technically the film is strong thanks partially to Bay's sensibilities; love him or hate him the man knows how to put the money on screen. Don't let the smaller scale budget fool you, the movie looks a billion dollars. If its comparable to anything, the film is admirably like that of Bay's early work and has the same look and feel of the Bad Boys series (even more so when you consider that those movies were made for a hell of a lot more). My only wish in that regard is that Bay should get back to this place as it’s clearly where his skill set lies: bizarre crime stories. The film is at its best when story breaks out in a rash of wild and crazy as Whalberg's deck of cards comes tumbling down and a strong technical team support that perfectly. The POV shots (captured with GoPro consumer cameras) and Snatch style info-graphics are wonderfully experimental elements that thankfully work out for the better.
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