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– by Daniel Tafoya

Pulp Fiction’s success spawned a lot of cinematic imitators back in the day. That people are still trying to make films to this day that are nods to it and its potent mix of crime and comedy shows the staying power that it has had. Unfortunately, one of the poorer imitations was just made by the man with co-story credit on that Oscar-winning classic, and that’s Roger Avary. His new movie, Lucky Day, tries to mix and match bloody violence and dark humor but fails in the process.

The story concerns Red, recently released from prison, who returns to his artist wife, played by Nina Dobrev, and their eight-year-old daughter. He served two years for robbing an investment bank and is hoping to get his share of the stolen bonds his criminal cohort has been hiding for him. Standing in his way is Crispin Glover’s hitman Luc Chaltiel, a faux Frenchman with remarkable killing skills and a particular unwillingness to die. Red will have to do the nigh impossible and take him down if he is to collect his loot and save his recently reunited family.

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The one high point of the film, for me, was Luke Bracey’s performance as Red. He has charm and charisma to spare, as the hunky parolee out to do right by his wife and daughter. He has great leading man chops, so I was surprised to find out that he was the same actor that played the lead in the somewhat recent Point Break remake. In that film, he didn’t register for me at all. Mind you, that might have been because he was following in the footsteps of Keanu Reeves, and it’s hard to win out in that comparison.

Nina Dobrev and Cliff Curtis, who plays Red’s parole officer, acquit themselves well in their supporting roles. Crispin Glover meanwhile does his typical, weird thing as the “French” assassin. There was nothing new to see with that.

The biggest failing was the film’s overall flabbiness. Scenes went on far too long and jokes were beat into the ground. The film takes far too long to get our protagonist and antagonist together in the same place, as the two characters’ storylines monotonously play out in a crosscut fashion. By the time they do, the river of blood that is generated is too late to get one to care, as you’ve likely been lulled into frustration, as I was, by all that’s come before.

Roger Avary shows the rust one would expect from someone who hasn’t made a film in the last 15 years. Those who know his history know what is likely the biggest reason why. I won’t get into it, but let’s just say that the years away have not been kind to Mr. Avary, insofar as his writing is concerned. It’s a wonder that the movie’s multiple producers saw his screenplay and thought that it would make for a fine film. “Nobody knows anything.” as the late screenwriting legend William Goldman’s quote goes.

Recommended if you liked: 2 Days in the Valley, Suicide Kings, Killing Zoe

FINAL GRADE: C+

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