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Cast: Michael Pitt, Dan Stevens, Christopher Abbott, Rob Brown, Edi Gathegi, Jackie Earle Haley, John Travolta
Four friends stumble into a deal too good to refuse. But when the investment goes bad, they learn that part of their funding came from a notoriously ruthless crime boss… and it’s payback time. Now, they must successfully kidnap a family member of a rival kingpin in order to erase the life-threatening debt. In way over their heads, if they can complete the assigned task without screwing up, they just might escape with their lives.
When Bryce, Zach, Noah and Warren get together for an ex-classmate's funeral they decide to go for drinks afterwards. While catching up one of them mentions that someone is selling stocks for $200,000 which will bring millions in return. None of the guys have any money to pitch in at the moment so Noah says he can get the money up. No one bothers to ask how he plans on doing that until the deal bottoms out and they lose everything including the $200,000 that Noah got from a local crime boss. Now in order to erase their debt and stay alive they will have to kidnap a family member of a rival crime boss.
"Criminal Activities" is a pretty good crime/thriller and is a bit more playful than I thought it would be. What I mean by that is Writer, Robert Lowell's script has a good bit of humor in it which makes the film a lot lighter at times and fun to watch. But the film still has its fair share of drama, suspense and violence, the humor is there to lighten the mood at times and it does it very well.
The film wastes no time getting started, as the film opens we see their soon to be dead friend walking toward the corner of the street and then before you know it he is laying in the street dead after being hit by a bus. No one seems to know what happened but they suspect it was suicide. The real reason for his death is revealed at the end of the film a long with a number of other revelations.
There is a lot going on in the film and there are numerous characters involved. The film seems like a straight forward crime film similar to "The Suicide Kings." It makes you believe that all the way to the very end when it unleashes several mind-boggling twists that completely throws everything you thought you knew out the window. I of course will not be revealing those twists here but I will say that I did enjoy the ending a lot.
The film is Jackie Earle Haley's directorial debut and he also gives a terrific performance in the film as well playing a goon to the crime boss. He had some very funny lines in the film and I enjoyed seeing him each time he appeared on screen. He also did a very good job telling the story and keeping the film moving at a very nice pace. Acting wise he wasn't alone, Michael Pitt, Dan Stevens, Christopher Abbott and Rob Brown all give excellent performances as the four friends and John Travolta is very good as the crime boss, Eddie. He may not have as much screen time as the others but he plays a very important role in the film and he delivers as usual.
"Criminal Activities" isn't a perfect film but I enjoyed watching it, I had no problem liking some of the characters and hating others. "Criminal Activities" is available now on DVD and Blu-ray with Special Features that include:
Interviews with John Travolta and Jackie Earle Haley
You can order it HERE. I found the film to be entertaining and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good crime thriller.
Released by RLJ Entertainment
*** 1/2 Out Of *****