A skillfully made British gangster movie that is nearly perfect in its 1st hour only to become muddled, both morally & in its plot, in its 2nd half. The film feels torn between having Caine become a villain or having him stay a hero & it tries to play it both ways. It's moralizing thus seems both superficial & too heavy, like the film was going one way & then backed out. Still, it's a capable movie if non-committal
On the surface, a post-modern transposition of a typical American crime drama onto the atypical landscape of England's bleak industrial north. The grit & grime of the place infects & infuses the standard film noir conventions with a level of violence & depravity rarely seen. However, beneath this surface, the film offers an insightful study on the futility of vengeance; as death stalks its characters, like a shadow.
There's a reason Michael Caine is Christian Bale's butler. After getting pinched with a rap sheet a mile long he had to strike a deal, and that entailed witness protection in America. Cleaning up after Batman allows him to vicariously relive his violent glory days. Ray Liotta could only have dreamed of such a sweet deal.
Fairly plain pulp fiction is here transformed into fascinating surfaces of circumstantial detail and mordant juxtapositions. Caine, as ever, a castor-wheeled block of emollient stone is well suited to the cypher-like Carter. The utilisation of the down-at-heel locale helps paint a suitably tawdry fresco to decorate the rather convoluted plot. Deliciously mean.
Sordid and mean spirited pulp with a classic score, and probably the british gangster film par excellence. Michael Caine, in a brutal but cool performance, plays the avenger Jack Carter, a London racketeer who goes to the foggy Newcastle trying to get the people who killed his brother. Seriously nihilistic, bleak and vividly detailed.
In 2004 this was selected as the #1 British movie of all time by the British magazine Total Film. Really? I just watched it and I thought it was a little over the top, and without any socially redeeming qualities. Generally I think revenge movies are a waste of time.