Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Mighty Quinn

0.5/4

Starring: Denzel Washington, James Fox, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Mimi Rogers, Esther Rolle, Robert Townsend

Rated R (probably for Violence, Some Language and Brief Drug Content)

Sometimes, it's hard to understand why a movie didn't become a cultural milestone.  Take for example "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse."  That was one of the funniest, most outrageous movies I've seen in a long time.  It bombed at the box office.  Other times, such as with "The Mighty Quinn," it's painfully obvious.

"The Mighty Quinn" can be summed up in one common term: jack of all trades, master of none.  Like last year's overlooked gorefest, there's nothing that isn't in the movie.  But while the zombie movie was assembled with skill and wit, here, it's a mess.  And I mean, a complete mess.

The plot?  I couldn't make heads or tails of it.  As far as I could tell, Washington plays Xavier Quinn, a Jamaican police detective sent to investigate a homicide.  It looks to be an open and shut case, but when the owner of the hotel, Thomas Egan (Fox) and his wife Hadley (Rogers), want it to go away, Quinn gets suspicious.  The prime suspect is his old friend Maubee (Townsend), but finding him is proving difficult.

When I say that there's nothing that isn't in this movie, I mean it.  The plot, which is paper thin and is trite when it actually makes sense, is often put aside for numerous subplots, such as Quinn trying to make nice with his wife (Ralph) and son (David McFarlane) or a scene where Quinn randomly gets drunk and starts crooning tunes at a bar (badly, I might add).  Consistency and focus are in short supply here.

I get the sense that director Carl Schenkel had no idea what he was doing and tried to do everything.  He wants it to be: a buddy comedy, a thriller, a tour through Jamaican society, and a romance.  I'm not saying that a truly visionary director can't wed all those things together, but Schenkel isn't it.

Denzel Washington is one of the most powerful and charismatic actors working today, but he isn't the most discerning of projects when the price is right ("Virtuosity," another 0.5/4 movie he starred in, is a prime example).  But what is he doing in this mess?  Could he not see that this was a disaster waiting to happen?  To be fair, Washington is the consummate professional and sports a flawless accent and enough feckless charm to make you wonder why he doesn't do more lighthearted material.  But this is a piece of shit.  No ifs, ands. or buts.

There is one note of praise for this movie: the cinematography by Jacques Steyn is gorgeous.  Truly evocative and colorful without being overbearing.  Don't want to overlook his hard work, even if it's in a terrible movie (that got surprisingly good reviews).

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