Some movies somewhat prove to be ‘not as advertised’. The bluray for director John Stockwell’s “Cat Run” features a very sexy and alluring Paz Vega (Spanglish) in marvelously short shorts, on her knees touting a gun. Well, first impressions is all about first impressions, and “Cat Run” does not feature the lovely Paz Vega as a sexy bad ass killer, but rather she was merely used as a marketing ploy by the sneaky distributor of this film. In "Cat Run", Paz Vega plays a high class escort-prostitute named Catalina, nicknamed “Cat” to some of her friends. She is on the job and got invited to an orgy one night, somewhere in eastern Europe where one of the guests is a horny U.S. ex-senator who is getting his knocks off with Catalina’s friend.
That night, something goes terribly wrong and Catalina ends up a pawn in a game of cover-ups and terrorism. Lovely Catalina is now on the run, and as fate would have it, she stumbles on a pair of wannabe‘s, Anthony and Julian (Scott Mechlowicz and Alphonso McAuley). Anthony wants to be a cook while Julian is well, thinks he is God’s gift to women. Curiously the two also wants to be private detectives and have hired a one-armed, no-legged receptionist named Dexter (D.L. Hughly). For some reason, the two decide to help Catalina without even her approval, and this puts them at odds with Daniel Carver (Karel Roden) who has sent a stone-cold assassin named Helen, code-named “the Seeker” (Janet McTeer) who would stop at nothing in recovering a secret hard drive.
“Cat Run” is your standard “bumbling idiots meet hot woman” film whose lives happen to affect the other through circumstance. John Stockwell had made his mark with films such as “Turistas”, and this time, the man goes about with this familiar premise with a touch of intrigue. Stockwell does have an eye for sleaze, and he does follow through with this reputation in this film. The film flaunts nudity, uses some graphic bloody and gory images to keep his viewer distracted, all the while hiding the pacing issues and how the two main protagonists are bumbling idiots who fail to make any sort of connection, and their interactions always end up boring.
The film tries to have that seedy approach, and I have to admit, the film is interesting in its first 35 minutes. I liked the simplicity of its groundwork, but I guess Stockwell just does not have the know-how to pull off such a film. Stockwell goes for some stylistic touches such as split screens and freeze frames to introduce its characters, but it all becomes visually derivative. This is the kind of film that should revel in its vicious violence and the display of raw brutality; Stockwell sends a message that he wants to flaunt these things, and yet, he becomes so distracted with himself and how to come up with something cool and different, that he bogged down the film with an unnecessary stylistics that dulled the violence’s wallop in the narrative.
The film is also what we have come call like a ‘straight-faced’ comedy, as it delivers its dark sense of humor with a serious tone. There were some scenes that worked, and several that didn’t. The direction struggled with the delivery of its intended gritty humor as it clashes with its goofy comedy. Stockwell may have an ace or two up his sleeve, but it hardly helps much, as the film felt that it dragged on the scenes where there are no Paz Vega and Janet McTeer, it ends up rather annoying. The film also serves up some twists to try to surprise, but the execution and timing made them a little too predictable.
Paz Vega is alluring and seductive indeed, and she can command the screen by her screen presence alone. I mean, it is easy to be taken by the actress, and the film has loads of beautiful naked women to appease the male viewer. Vega also has some serious skills in acting, but in this film, she is more for 'eye candy ' than anything else. The lead characters of Anthony and Julian were too incredibly dull, even when they try to deliver some smart banter and clever wit, the two could not make the connection and the two bumbled around the sequences. However, Stockwell, did have another ace up his sleeve aside from Paz Vega, Janet McTeer is one true bad ass somewhat older female assassin and she saved the film for me. I mean, she reminded me of Helen Mirren’s role in “Red” with a much more meaner streak. She is ruthless and yet she does have her own sense of honor that makes her very interesting. McTeer ran away with the show, and without her character and screen presence, this film would’ve headed straight for the trash bin.
“Cat Run” isn’t a terrible movie. It had a lot of potential, which was sad that the direction just did not know how to capitalize on its strengths and opted to use two bumbling, boring idiots to take much more screen time than its far more interesting characters. The film does have a lot of things going on, and it would be easy to get polarized by it. It is too aggressively over-directed and a little overlong once you consider the simplicity of its plot. It is clumsily put together, and takes a little too much time getting to its interesting parts. It cries to be sleek and cool, while it should have been much more visceral, feral and dirty. Decent script with the wrong director and wrong main protagonists. Thank goodness for Paz Vega and Janet McTeer, otherwise this movie would be a skipper.
RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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