Don’t drunk and drive, kids. Or go to jail for 12 years. Or do drugs. Or, simply, just don’t do anything bad.
It’s been quite a long time since Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) has been out in the outside world (12 years to be exact), but he finally gets released one day, where he goes back to doing everything he once did before. He collects debts; has sex with women; does blow like nobody’s business; drink; illegally smoke tobacco inside of a pub; hang out with his close-buddy Leftie (Richard E. Grant); kick the shit out of the man who married his wife when he was thrown in jail; and try his damn near hardest to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke). The only problem is that Dom has a bit of a temper-issue, which more often than not, has gotten him into trouble in the past, and seems to be getting him in even more trouble now when he realizes that he’s out of money and needs a new gig. Being the swift heist-man that he is, with the niftiest of fingers, he decides to go back to his old ways of breaking into concealed-vaults; something that’s a lot harder now with every vault being electronic, thus throwing Dom off of his game. Thus, as a result, making Dom even more pissed-off with everything and everyone around him.
It’s been a long while since I’ve seen something in which Jude Law really wow’d me. Not saying that he’s a bad actor by any means – in fact, he’s a terribly consistent one. He always shows up in movies, acts, does what he has to do, look charming, get his paycheck and continue on to the next project in which he’ll do the same exact thing. There’s nothing wrong with that really, especially if you’re somebody whose been surviving in Hollywood since the mid-to-late-90’s, but there is something to be said for an actor who has always been around, but really hasn’t had that one, amazing performance in which he’s knocked down all of the doors and showed us his true talents as an actor.
I think Dom Hemingway may in fact be that performance we’ve all, myself included, have been waiting for.
What Law does so well here as Dom Hemingway, unlike from anything else we’ve ever seen him do, is be brass, crass and all sorts of detestable. Dom Hemingway, by creation, is a dirty, mean son-of-a-bitch that looks as if he’s stumbled out of the pubs from the 70’s, and into the modern-era in which none of the kids want anything to do with his old, grungy ass, and just want to hang out and drink their Pabst Blue Ribbons alone and in peace. He’s always wanting to get pissed, get some blow, bang some fine ladies, and start trouble with anybody who dares to ever step up to him. Because of that, we’re supposed to dislike him and think he’s just a total jack-ass that doesn’t our sympathy, or even time of day – but somehow, Law makes us do just that.
Law is every bit as loud as he’s ever been in a movie before. With Hemingway, Law’s asked to be a total sleaze-ball, but a sleaze-ball that is always making those around him feel uncomfortable. Not just because he always seems to do and say the wrong things, at the wrong time, and to the wrong people especially, but because he’s just so damn unpredictable with his actions. One second, he’ll be so drunk that he’ll be offending and screaming at the most powerful mob-boss in all of Europe; but then, the next second, be totally cool, calm and suave at the dinner-table, with the same guy he was just insulting clear to his face. So yeah, Dom Hemingway is not an easy character to pin-point down, but that’s why it’s so amazing to see Law tackle a hard task like that and seemingly get through it all without making us ever seem like he’s trying too hard to be something that he clearly isn’t.
Sure, the receding hair-line, chin-strap facial-hair, and over-worked jaw-line may also have something to do with that, but for the most part, it’s Jude Law that makes us believe in somebody like Dom Hemingway.
The same actor whom, ten years ago, was most known for tappin’ his nannies and filling in Michael Caine’s shoes, in a movie most of us would like to just forget about by now.
But there’s a reason why I’m talking so much about Jude Law’s performance in the first place because, as much as I hate to say it, the rest of the movie doesn’t really live up to everything he does. The supporting cast is good here – with Richard E. Grant being a particular stand-out as Hemingway’s close buddy/voice of reason – and there were a few moments in which I had no clue what Dom was going to do next and how it was going to affect him and those around him. But, like I said, there just wasn’t much else here to really keep me going and all that interested.
There’s a twist that occurs somewhere around the half-way mark in which the tone of the movie sort of changes and we see how Dom’s life goes from shit, to even shittier in about a matter of a couple of minutes. The surprising switch itself is one that I think writer/director Richard Shepard pulled-off well, but he does with that feels sort of like an after-thought; almost as if the only idea for this movie was to focus on how much fun it is to watch Jude Law yell, rather than actually give us a plot, or even much character-development really. Then again, we do get some character-development here for Dom, it’s just that a lot of it seems so cheap and over-used.
Like, for instance, the whole idea that Dom’s daughter absolutely hates his guts because he left her and her mother all alone, with nobody to care for them at all, isn’t anything new, but you could do so much with that to make it feel genuine and heartfelt. Here, it felt like Shepard knew he wanted it to be the sweet aspect about the movie that the more emotional moviegoers would enjoy more than just seeing Jude Law eat cocaine like breakfast cereal, so he didn’t put much thought into it. All we get are a couple of arguments that go nowhere except show us that Dom’s daughter doesn’t like him and doesn’t want to give him a chance to get to know her better and make up for lost times, which then makes Dom want to go out and go back to his old ways of pulling-off heists.
For some reason, I didn’t see the connection and I sort of wish I did. It not only would have made the movie more interesting as it went along, but would have made a lot more sense to me once Dom started going nuts and humping vaults. Yeah, it gets a little nuts, but that’s all this movie seems to want to be: Nuts, with Jude Law providing most of that craziness for us.
Consensus: Though Jude Law clearly carries Dom Hemingway on his bulky shoulders and booze-breath, the rest of it doesn’t feel as well thought-out or interesting, it’s almost too in awe of its own main character.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, Collider, ComingSoon.net
Good review! From the trailers, I could sense this movie would rely mostly on Jude, even though I’m sure he did well.
It does and it works because of that. He’s awesome.
I am glad that I avoided seeing this film at TIFF. But I heard Jude Law was great in this movie. I am going to see it anyway. Hopefully, it will meet my expectations.
I hope so, too. Because Jude Law’s very good in this.
Nice review, man. I think I’ll wait for DVD for this one, but I should check it out just for Law’s performance.
I think you definitely should.
Although Jude Law was OK in spells, I have to say I hated this movie and all it’s Lock Stock/Sexy Beast wannabe mockney rubbish. Good review though Dan
It seems like that kind of movie, just with not as much style.
I agree with Thomasjford – it felt very confused, and had a big tonal switch half-way through. Wasn’t great, in my opinion, but Law saves it from damnation. A 5/10 in my books. Good review.
Film tails off a bit, but Law is amazing in this, and I’m not a big fan of his.
I hated, hated, hated this film! Trailers looked great; it kicked off with a promising fifteen minute character study of a mental Jude Law; it had WITHNAIL…and then it just sapped away into a series of contrived and extremely irritating encounters with bit-part actors. It flopped, and rightly so.
Wonderful review, Dan. You echo a lot of my sentiments. I called the film a showcase for Jude Law’s impressive talent in my review, but thought the movie itself was inconsistent. “It starts out promising, falls apart a bit toward the end, but Law keeps you engaged until the credits roll,” I wrote. Like you I gave it a 7.
Watched this and managed to get to the end, just about, this is a painful movie to watch. Jude Law tries his best but his character is just too much to handle and he just over-plays him. Best avoided IMO
Reblogged this on Rankin' Movies by Garrett Rankin and commented:
Great film review!
Good review. I liked this a little more than you did, but it’s easy to agree that Jude Law was amazing.
“. . .it’s almost too in awe of it’s own main character.” — Brilliant line man.
And this is kind of what I was hoping would not be the case for the movie. Jude Law seems like he has a field day being this sniveling little d*ck but the rest of the movie might not be able to live up to what he puts out. By the sounds of it that’s exactly what happens. Still probably will see it though, a 7 out of 10 is pretty good
Great write up Dan, saw the trailer a few weeks ago and thought this could have been a good movie. I would have checked it out but it was not released here.
I liked this for the most part, though it is mainly a one man show. Nice review, Dan.
I was really interested in this one, especially because of Law, but I may take your advice and wait for the rental. Terrific review Dan!
Missed this when it hit UK cinemas earlier in the year, but your review now has me interested, particularly in Law’s performance. Good work Dan!
Even though I felt it wasn’t a “great” film, I still have a great time watching Jude Law obliterate everyone else in it. Really wish he chose better roles more often, honestly.
Nice review Dan – I saw this one at the Sarasota Film Festival back on the 6th of April. Loved Jude Law’s performance, but said that the second half was a bit too maudlin. I gave it 3.5 out of 5. It’s worth seeing if you like lewd, crude, and loudmouthed dudes.
Sort of reminds me of James McAvoy and Filth (2013), an unlikeable main character, in what will most likely only be remembered for the showy performance.