Beyond Fright Review: 10 CENT PISTOL

unnamed10 CENT PISTOL opens up with two police officers investigating a silent alarm at the front door of Harris (Thomas Ian Nicholas, AMERICAN PIE, HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION). His reaction to find the police at his door proves to be of suspicion as the sweat rolls down and his need to get them to leave only encourages the officers to investigate.  Upon entering, they are greeted by Danneel (Jena Malone, DONNIE DARKO), the coy damsel in a tight blue mini dress who makes every word sound innocent, yet seductive. Harris and Daneel lead the officers into the living room where they find Easton and Jake, two even more suspicious characters sitting on the couch.

This instantly pulls the audience in as we’re not entirely sure who exactly is hiding what in this scenario and if the cops are going to find anything. The bad guy in this scene is quickly revealed via clumsy cop decisions and an ignored written note that only the viewer gets a glimpse of. It’s through this introduction that 10 CENT PISTOL begins its series of flashbacks and voice overs, surrounding Easton as our protagonist, even if it’s hard to root for him at times. See, Easton used to work for Punchy, a mobster with a taste in high class fabrics. It was Punchy who convinces Easton to take the fall for a crime and serve some time. Upon Easton’s early release, it turns out Punchy ran off with all of Easton’s money and Easton is not one to steal from. Through even more flashbacks, we find that Easton and Jake know how to pull off a heist and plan on getting back what was stolen. This scheme involves pretty Danneel’s seduction skills and getting Harris to unknowingly lead Easton and Jake to Punchy’s house. It turns out Harris is Punchy’s son and his house is supposedly where all these stolen funds are located at.

This may seem like a spoiler filled review, but these events all occur in the first half hour. Writer-Director Michael C. Martin’s film is filled with more stories about his leads and the relationships that kept them close and, more importantly, end up keeping them apart. Even though the focus seems to lay on Easton and Jake, the most interesting character is Danneel and that credit goes mainly to Jena Malone. Malone, who first made an impact in the film world as the abused daughter of Jennifer Jason Leigh in Showtime’s BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA, proves to be a scene stealer in what is a predominantly male driven vehicle.  Unfortunately, whenever she comes into play, her scenes tend to be interrupted by another voiceover and the pending threat of a flashback of the flashback we were just watching.

The machismo attitude of the mobster wannabes end up being distracting as the influence of GOODFELLAS and THE DEPARTED are far too obvious to be defined as homages and is a bit hard to believe several moments in the film. It’s hard not to roll your eyes over the need to emphasize how one is not to trust someone who eats pizza without folding it (if you don’t get it now, you will after hearing it multiple times here). Nicholas’s small role in the film as Harris took me by surprise as he is better known for comedic roles in his films. Here, he takes charge of a supporting role that creates a sense of anxiety the character requires and is quite effective in his short screen time. With all that being said, 10 CENT PISTOL is actually not a regrettable watch. Despite the lack of charismatic leads, the film has its engaging moments and Malone’s performance make this worth checking out.

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