Here's one of the more ludicrous moments in this tough-talking but ultimately unfulfilling flick: "You don't look like a killer," Rachel tells Roy, despite the fact that Roy is played by Harvey Keitel, who looks exactly like a killer.
Violence smoulders in his eyes - in his every movement - and, by the time his ex-colleague's ex-wife makes this startling misjudgment, we've seen him spill the blood of almost everyone he's met - most chillingly, beating someone up at length while somehow balancing a fag on his lower lip. Now that takes skill.
With such a macho performance at its core, it's disappointing to discover that City Of Industry is one of those films you want to like more than you actually do. Because, despite Keitel's clear devotion to the role, the one-note relentlessness of his killing crusade fails to translate into a gripping story. Harv meets a guy. He asks a question. The guy gets lippy. Wordlessly, Harv beats him up and/or murders him. Repeat ad infinitum.
That said, some parts of City do gel. After a slow opening, and the tiresome establishing of extraneous Rachel (Famke Janssen, a long way from her role as chest-crushing Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye), the film gets sharp and smart for a good half-hour. The heist scene is genuinely gripping; Timothy Hutton is superbly edgy as Roy's loser brother Lee; and Stephen Dorff skips through his portrayal of loose canon Skip with some style.
Ultimately, though, City Of Industry plays too safe. It's in love with the idea of a violent, morally shadowy crime movie, but unable to feel the heat. After the (admittedly startling) betrayal, there are no more surprises, and we're left on an unengaging slog to the inevitable showdown.
There's plenty to enjoy, not least fine actors, brooding intensity and sparky action. But, without coherent plotting, that's not enough.
An interesting and likeably brutal attempt to make a modern-day film noir, with a meaty performance from Keitel. But the script sags all too frequently, and the plotting's surprisingly ramshackle. Unfortunately, City Of Industry doesn't quite work.
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