Go Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1999


Desmond Askew and Taye Diggs

Meaningless, yet undeniably entertaining, "Go" is a vicarious romp through the minefield of youthful indulgences. Though director Doug Liman (director of the indie-smash "Swingers") borrows heavily from "Pulp Fiction", in both narrative structure and visual stylings, there are enough unexpected plot twists and bizarre comic situations to put this on anyone's 'must see' list.

The film's story is divided into three narrative streams, each of them unfolding in more or less the same space of time, Christmas Eve, eventually converging with some surprising results. The first subplot follows the tribulations of grocery store checkout girl Ronna (Sarah Polley of "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Exotica"), who is about to be evicted from her apartment on Christmas Day unless she can come up with $380 in rent. In desperate need of funds, she decides to take a shift for her drug-dealing co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew), who is on his way to spend Christmas with his friends in Las Vegas.

Sarah Polley

However, Ronna is soon presented with an additional money making opportunity when two of Simon's clients, Zack (Jay Mohr of "Jerry Maguire") and Adam (Scott Wolf), come into the store looking for their usual dealer, Simon. Ronna seizes the opportunity and offers to score twenty hits of the drug 'Ecstasy' for the two buyers in Simon's absence. She gets their address and then heads over to Simon's supplier, Todd (Timothy Olyphant), to get the goods. Unfortunately, Ronna doesn't have enough cash to cover the cost of the drugs, and she has to leave her best friend (Katie Holmes of "Dawson's Creek") as collateral. Unfortunately, events do not unfold for Ronna as expected when she senses that Zack and Adam are up to something.

The second subplot follows the wild antics of Simon and his friend Marcus (Taye Diggs of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back") as they dash through Sin City in a hedonistic frenzy. Unfortunately, like Ronna, their best laid plans have unexpected consequences, resulting in a series of sexual misadventures involving a couple of bridesmaids, some lap dancers, gun-toting bouncers, and a wild car chase through Las Vegas.

Katie Holmes

Finally, the third narrative stream focuses on Zack and Adam, who are actually soap opera actors being pressured by a cop (William Fichtner) to participate a sting operation aimed at bringing down the local Ecstasy drug trade. However, the sting operation is only the beginning for their wild and crazy night, a night that eventually encompasses a strange Christmas Eve dinner with the cop and his sexually-ambitious wife (Jane Krakowski from "Dance With Me" and "Ally McBeal"), a stop at a warehouse rave, and a seemingly-fatal hit-and-run accident.

"Go" is certainly ambitious. Using a non-linear Rashomon-style narrative, different perspectives are given on numerous scenes throughout the film, similar to the deconstruction of the money exchange sequence in "Jackie Brown". And though the numerous coincidences border on making the story implausible, it's a lot of fun to catch the assorted revelations as new points-of-view are thrown into previously-executed scenes. John August's screenplay also has a lot of fun with the material, throwing the characters into comically absurd situations and on whimsical tangents, such as a drug-induced telepathic conversation with a cat. Furthermore, the script constantly defies audience expectations by setting up scenes in a conventional manner and then sending the story down an unexpected avenue, often with hilarious results. As a result, you never know what's going to happen next.

Unfortunately, the film noticeably begins to run out of steam in the third act, when it tries to wrap up the many loose ends of the plot. Though there are still a few memorable moments as the three subplots converge in a more-or-less sanguine finale, the film's closing lacks the spark and exuberance of the previous two acts, which is made even more apparent with some surprisingly poor pacing. However, this stumble does not completely write-off the film-- the third act does manage to delight more than most films-- it's just that it doesn't live up to the terrific high created by the film's first hour-and-a-half.

It's also unfortunate that the screen time of the film's best performance, Sarah Polley, was cut short. I've watched this Canadian actress' talent develop over the years and she has the uncanny ability of bringing a certain distinction to the roles she plays, turning in one strong performance after another, even when confronted with limited material. In "Go", Polley brings the right mix of determination and vulnerability to the checkout-girl-turned-drug-dealer and it would have been a treat if the film had focused entirely on her story. Askew is also quite good, bringing a boyish fervor to his role, while Diggs exudes a remarkable screen presence as the more rational part of the duo. Finally, Holmes does wonders with the limitations of her character, who winds up wandering around befuddled, completely clueless to the bizarre events unfolding around her.

Liman has followed-through on the promise shown in his debut feature, "Swingers", with a flashy, eclectic, and energetic trip through the streets of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Other than a stumble near the film's end, "Go" is certain to entertain with its head-spinning narrative, catchy soundtrack, hip visual flourishes, and some noteworthy performances, Sarah Polley in particular. "Go" is where it's at.

Images courtesy of Columbia Pictures. All rights reserved.


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