Written & Directed by CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE
Produced by BRYAN SINGER, CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE & MICHAEL McDONNELL
JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Joseph Taymor
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. as Fred Kaiser
MOS DEF as Ray Sterling
BENICIO DEL TORO as Jimmy Sosa
STEVE BUSCEMI as Willard "The Parasite" Jenkins
GABRIEL BYRNE as Frank Voelder
Tagline: "Crime will always breed catastrophe"
Synopsis: Fred Kaiser (DOWNEY) is running from the mob. Having been a drug operations supervisor for known Los Angeles mobster Frank Voelder (BYRNE), he has just made the biggest mistake of his life. He has betrayed his boss by stealing 1 million dollars in drug money from a private plane headed to Mexico. He soon disappears.
After being tracked down by the FBI in El Paso, Texas and saved from an attempted hit by Voelder's men, Kaiser agrees to be escorted back to LA to give the feds information needed to take down the ruthless gangster. He will be escorted in secrecy under the protection of agents Joe Taymor and Ray Sterling (PHOENIX and DEF). He also stubbornly refuses to tell them the whereabouts of the money until he is safely in LA under maximum federal protection. All is going along well until a leak in the agency gives up the route the men are taking. A cat and mouse series of confrontations and shootouts ensues when Voelder hires two sadistic hitmen known as Jimmy Sosa (DEL TORO), a straight-faced, "take down anyone who gets in his way" killer, and Willard "The Parasite" Jenkins (BUSCEMI), a sadistic and sociopathic hitman who likes to sneak up on his targets silently and ruthlessly kill them before they can even react to the surprise of his presence. To make matters worse, Voelder has put up a half a million dollar bounty to be rewarded to the first man who kills Kaiser, thus ensuring that they will ruthlessly compete to get the job done. After a period of predator vs. prey hunting and defense, both hitmen are killed. But the the tables turn when it is reveled that James DeMott (KEVIN SPACEY in a cameo role), the head agent in Kaiser's case was the leak who gave up the the three men's locations, he had been playing both sides. The three men are captured upon nearing LA and taken to Voelder's mansion where a climactic shootout ensues, leaving DeMott, Voelder and Taymor dead (Taymor died protecting Kaiser). In the end, Kaiser reveals to Sterling that he's an undercover DEA agent working to bring down Voelder's operation. He also tells Sterling that the money is in a private bank vault in Phoenix, AZ. He gives him the necessary information to access it and the two part ways after a moment of respect. We then cut to Phoenix, where Sterling and a few other men open the vault to find it is empty. Sterling reacts to the fact that he has been played.
In the film's final scene, we are at an upscale bank in Austin, Texas where Kaiser (dressed very professionally) gains access to his private account under the alias "Vic Singer." He opens the deposit box and pulls out a briefcase, upon opening it,its contents are revealed to be the million dollars he stole from Voelder. He walks out of the bank with the money and into the parking lot where he gets in his car and drives off. This scene concludes the film.
What the Press would say:
"This is a clever and gritty crime drama that often plays as a dark comedy with elements of a good mystery. The script, penned by the very talented Christopher McQuarrie is smart with great characters who each bring their own unique traits to the film's story."
"Downey and Byrne play as the film's highlight characters. Their connection and chemistry without being in the same scene together is obvious and felt throughout the entire picture. Their actions and decisions are the cause and effect of the film's events. Truly smart and enjoyable in experiencing a good crime film."
"From its introduction to its conclusion, you are attentive to the film as a whole. You are curious to know what will happen next, and when the final twists and turns come about, you are left completely surprised. A winner of a movie!"
"We know McQuarrie can write a script, and we are now assured he can direct. Filmed digitally with precision, the camerawork is splendid and the angles are perfect. A gritty work of crime-based cinema very reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, and Quentin Tarantino, even holding memories of McQuarrie's breakthrough film (as a writer) The Usual Suspects. A true to form work of film."
BEST PICTURE (Drama- GG) (Ensemble- SAG)
BEST ACTOR (Downey)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Byrne)
MOST LIKELY TO BECOME A CULT FILM