April 23, 2024

Fast Charlie 2023 Movie Review

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Fast Charlie 2023 Movie Review

    Charlie Swift (Pierce Brosnan) is a former Marine turned fixer for the crime syndicate in Biloxi, Mississippi that holds together even in the face of its aging head Stan Mullen’s (James Caan) diminishing mental faculties. Following a hit on a low level crook named Rollo on behalf of New Orleans crime boss Beggar (Gbenga Akinnagbe), Beggar soon stages an attack that leaves most of the Biloxi crew dead. Charlie teams up with Rollo’s ex Marcie (Morenca Baccarin) to find some evidence on Beggar he’d stashed away in order to take down Beggar and avenge his crew.

    Fast Charlie is an adaptation of the 2001 crime novel Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler. Attempts had been made as far back as 2009 to adapt the novel to film when director Ryuhei Kitamura was slated to direct from a script by Lee Goldberg, but fell into development hell until producer Dan Grodnik acquired the project and resurrected it as a directing vehicle for Phillip Noyce with Richard Wenk of the Denzel Washington Equalizer films writing the script. Now unceremoniously released to on-demand, one would be forgiven for thinking this was throwaway action fodder built around a name cast. While Fast Charlie does hit upon many of the touchstones of the hitman adjacent action genre, it has a solid against type performance from Brosnan and a setting that distinguishes it from the more typical urban settings of this type of film.

    While I had reservations about Pierce Brosnan playing a southern Fixer for the Biloxi mafia, he does a pretty good job of taking on the accent and for the most part I was able to buy Brosnan as a hard edged aging fixer for a low level criminal enterprise. Despite now being in his 70s Brosnan still exudes strong charisma and charm and handles himself well enough in the action beats that Phillip Noyce knows how to stage. While the movie does include romantic subtext between Morena Baccarin’s Marcie and Brosnan’s Charlie (complete with a noticeable if not overtly objectionable age gap) at least Marcie is able to hold her own as a reasonably compelling character. James Caan is decent as the aging mob boss Stan Mullen in his final role, but as the character is in the waning years of his life Caan doesn’t really get to do much except act confused and the fact he seems like he’s still central to the Biloxi mafia’s operations is never really addressed in how this is all working and is nebulously defined at best.

    This really goes into the biggest weakness of Fast Charlie in that it feels like its noir story isn’t fully developed and squanders its unique setting for a conventional revenge narrative. While the movie’s perfectly serviceable on that front, the movie’s opening with its quirky characterization of a man named “Blade” who beheads a guy with a blasting cap loaded donut or the need to Identify an assassination target via a tattoo on his posterior feel like remnants from a quirkier more darkly comic material that Noyce and Wenk have decided to play more straight. I’ll admit I don’t know a lot about Victor Gischler, but from what I’ve seen it looks like he’s known for adding humor to his crime stories and given Noyce is more known for straight action/thrillers with no comedy to his name I really have to wonder if Wenk and Noyce were the right team to tackle this material.

    As a performance piece for Pierce Brosnan, his central performance as Charlie Swift makes the movie worth a one time viewing in my opinion (when it hits whatever streaming service you happen to already be a member of) and it has more ambition and personality than your average VOD action thriller of this type. With that said there’s moments where the original quirkiness and absurdity of the original premise shine through and they feel somewhat at odds with the direction Noyce and Wenk wanted to take this material and story elements such as how the Biloxi mafia continues to operate with its head’s declining faculties feel underdeveloped and could’ve served as a movie unto themselves. A decent enough time killer that feels like it could’ve been much more.

    Fast Charlie 2023 Movie Review