Give 'Em Hell Malone (2009)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/2/14
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Cast: Thomas Jane, Elsa Pataky, Ving Rhames, Chris Yen

A fun and off-beat action noir from director Russell Mulcahy, that blends classic hard-boiled detective motifs with modern society. Malone (Thomas Jane) is a rough and violent private detective with a bad attitude and a drinking problem. He has a reputation for being hard to kill, and rumor has it that he ripped out a man's heart and ate it in an act of sadistic revenge. The film revolves around a mysterious case that Malone is hired to retrieve, which turns out to be a ruse of some kind. An alluring woman named Evelyn (luscious Elsa Pataky) arrives on the scene as the femme fatale who hired Malone (or did she?), followed by a trio of eccentric professional killers who all want the case. Preferably over Malone's dead body. Malone knows that Evelyn is nothing but trouble, but he can't help falling under her seductive spell. Malone finally puts all the pieces together and tracks down the source of all his troubles, which leads to a pile of dead bodies and a bittersweet downer of an ending.

It's definitely a low budget film, but Mulcahy makes it a stylish and exciting outing. Shot in Spokane, WA, it also has a very unique look and feel. The film opens with a bang, featuring a shockingly violent and bloody shoot-out and car chase, which does a nice job of establishing Malone's character. Unfortunately, the action drops considerably after this set piece, but the tone remains consistent. Thankfully, it doesn't take long for Elsa Pataky to show up, and she is absolutely riveting. She's a delightfully tough gal and has no problem standing up to Malone and verbally sparring with him. Everything about her is designed to thrill and seduce, with the unfortunate exception of her hideous lipstick. Competing for her attention in the eye candy department is a young and pretty Asian assassin called "The Mauler" (Chris Yen), who has a blade fetish and enjoys seducing and slicing up men. Her scenes are very athletic and quite satisfying. The snappy dialog is a amusingly kooky and perfectly complements the behavior of the strange and larger than life characters. Thomas Jane does an adequate job and delivers some nicely wry humor, but he tends to mumble through the entire film and is emotionally flat and hard to understand. Only at the very end does he express any sort of pain and remorse, but it comes too late to redeem his character. Ms. Pataky immediately won me over with her fierce personality, feminine charms, and sexy wardrobe. She is simply amazing to watch. The film is definitely an under-appreciated gem if you enjoy violent and gritty detective films, and Mulcahy's quirky sense of humor gives it a refreshingly bizarre twist.