In the 90s Renny Harlin was arguably the premier director of out-and-out action films. Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight are all his. Since then though his reputation has suffered with a succession of lower budget B-grade films and television work. His latest film is unlikely to restore his reputation though. The Misfits is an underwhelming and tepid throwback to the B-grade heist capers of the 80s, and offers up little that we haven’t seen before in dozens of other films.
Not to be confused with John Huston’s 1961 drama of the same name (which, incidentally, was the final film of Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable), The Misfits is a B-grade heist thriller that comes across like a lesser episode of the classic TV series Mission: Impossible or a distant cousin of Ocean’s Eleven or even the later installments of the Fast and the Furious franchise.
The script has been written by Kurt Wimmer (the recent bland remake of Point Break) and Robert Henny. Much of the cliched dialogue is truly tone deaf. Misdirection is the name of the game here as they keep key details hidden until the final reveal. Although anyone familiar with some of the classics of this genre will see where it is heading.
Richard Pace (Pierce Brosnan) is a renowned thief who is past his prime. When the film opens he has managed to escape from a high security prison owned by corrupt businessman Warner Schultz (Tim Roth), who also seems to be in league with the mysterious head of a terrorist organisation for whom he launders money. He quickly finds himself drawn into an elaborate plot to go into a Middle Eastern country full of terrorists and steal a fortune in gold bullion in a vault beneath a highly secure state of the art private prison.
The plot is hatched by a band of vigilante thieves known as the Misfits but they need someone of Pace’s reputation to help them. This diverse band of crooks consists of martial artist and assassin Violet (Jamie Chung); Ringo (Nick Cannon), a conman and master of disguise, who also narrates the film; the enigmatic thief known as the Prince (Rami Jaber, a former racing car driver making his film debut here); and an explosives expert known as Wick (Thai pop star Mike Angelo). They steal from crooks and terrorists and donate the proceeds to international aid organisations and charities to make the world a better place. Pace is initially reluctant to become involved until he learns that the group has been assembled by his own estranged daughter Holly (Hermione Corfield). Holly worries that Pace will eventually double cross them all and make off with the gold himself.
Brosnan has plenty of charisma and is still able to largely capitalise on his reputation as a former James Bond to try and breathe life into the sluggish script. As Pace’s nemesis Roth seems both bored and bemused by the demands of the script. Although the film is pacy enough, the action sequences tend to be clumsily executed and the set pieces, which includes a chase across the desert, lack any real sense of excitement.
The Misfits was filmed on location in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Cinematographer Denis Alarcon Ramirez (Jumpman) makes the most of the exotic locations, giving the film some stunning production values, flashy visuals and a crisp look.
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Greg King has had a life long love of films. He has been reviewing popular films for over 15 years. Since 1994, he has been the film reviewer for BEAT magazine. His reviews have also appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper, S-Press, Stage Whispers, and a number of other magazines, newspapers and web sites. Greg contributes to The Blurb on film