What I Watched At Midnight – Catch .44

Maybe It Is Harder To Write Like Tarantino Than You Thought
Quentin Tarantino is one of my all time favorite directors without caveat or equivocation. When I watched Catch .44 last night I couldn’t help but feel like Quentin Tarantino inadvertently set movie making back*. How? Because he made movies that thought of themselves as being clever. Before Tarantino that was considered bad writing, now it is considered meta or hip or some such thing. Like I said, I love Tarantino so obviously in the right hands a self congratulatory movie can work but in less talented hands, like the hands that made Catch .44, woof, it makes for some bad movie making.
The only thing that saves Catch .44 from being unwatchable is the cast. Malin Akerman is watchable and versatile as always as she leads her little gang of hot, gun toting, tough talking women that includes Nikki Reed (really trying to break out of the Twilight stereo type) and Deborah Ann Wall (not showing any of the innocence that makes her so great on True Blood). The movie is plenty slow enough to allow for elongated conversations between the three to show off how clever the writers are, but to their credit, all three women give it their all and show something between flashes and proof that they have more talent than merely looking good. Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker are also here, chewing up scenery and following the direction of “what your character as weird as you want”. Still, they are both pros and know how to make weird a little interesting. Shea Wingham and Brad Douriff even get nice little turns in bit parts.
From the disjointed timeline, to the conversations as prelude to action this movie is an homage to all things Tarantino, just with a female “crew” instead of a male one. It is always winking, always patting itself on the back, and while I like watching most of the people in it not even they could overcome material that was something other than clever, it was trite.
Catch .44 is a Level III movie.

*Three non movie examples of greatness that did long term damage to their field. First, Magic Johnson, who killed low-post basketball and the age of the center because all big men think they can dribble now and play outside. Second, Bill Simmons, who, with his relaxed and longer form writing style has convinced sports bloggers that they don’t need to be “tight” when they write. Third, Picasso, by going abstract and then simple made artists feel like they didn’t need to lear how to paint “realistically” and lear the techniques of good painting because they were just going to go for the weird right away (I also could have put Pollock here, but it was the same pint either way).