Saturday, 23 March 2013

Chinatown Review

This is one of those movies that was made in a time when Hollywood was just starting to move from overacting glamour to more gritty and realistic movies.  Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson are largely responsible for those style of movies being successful.  Both were tremendous actors back in the day.  They're still good but, as they get older and start embracing other genres, they are starting to become caricatures of themselves.  I'm not saying that they're washed up.  Far from it.  I'm just saying that, when they stick to roles like Nicholson played in Chinatown and De Niro did in Taxi Driver, they are at their best.

Nicholson really carries this movie.  It isn't a spectacular story by any means.  It's a basic crime movie where a guy is investigating one thing and uncovers a whole conspiracy and other shady details and winds up in over his head.  It's one of Hollywood's basic thriller plots.  There is not a whole lot surprise so it has to rely on some good acting and a quick pace to keep the audience interested.

It accomplishes this through a great performance by Nicholson.  He plays the wisecracking, "do it my own way" private detective quite well and shows a great range of emotions throughout.  You can tell that the other actors are trying to step up their game and keep up with his level.

The pace is also kept fairly quick.  There are a couple of times when I thought it was slowing down but that could be because I was watching it on a plane at around midnight.  I'm sure that if I watched this in an early evening, I would have thought it was moving very quickly.

See it.  It doesn't get as gritty and violent as some of today's thrillers.  But given that it's over 30 years old, it still stands up as a fairly decent crime thriller.

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