Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Review: Dutch Crime Thriller 'Black Out' For People Who Liked 'The Hangover III' But Wish It Had More Ultraviolence

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist February 19, 2014 at 5:46PM

Are we destined to keep making copies of copies of copies? And is this always going to make us all feel old? The knee-jerk temptation is to react to Arne Toonen’s “Black Out” in much the same way naysayers treated Guy Ritchie’s crime pictures of the late nineties for jacking an aesthetic (specifically Tarantino’s): disdain for a naked reappropriation of an aesthetic that already borrowed from earlier trends and ideas. Ritchie has gone on to validate the supporters of those earlier films by broadening his aesthetic and assembling a tidy, respectable body of work, with few genuine standout pictures. Toonen, who seems a bit more desperate in his naked theft and references, still can’t seem to shake his own crowd-pleasing tendencies. Ritchie wanted to stretch out his aesthetic. Toonen just wants you to laugh. Desperately.
4
Black Out

Are we destined to keep making copies of copies of copies? And is this always going to make us all feel old? The knee-jerk temptation is to react to Arne Toonen’s “Black Out” in much the same way naysayers treated Guy Ritchie’s crime pictures of the late nineties for jacking an aesthetic (specifically Tarantino’s): disdain for a naked reappropriation of an aesthetic that already borrowed from earlier trends and ideas. Ritchie has gone on to validate the supporters of those earlier films by broadening his aesthetic and assembling a tidy, respectable body of work, with few genuine standout pictures. Toonen, who seems a bit more desperate in his naked theft and references, still can’t seem to shake his own crowd-pleasing tendencies. Ritchie wanted to stretch out his aesthetic. Toonen just wants you to laugh. Desperately.

Black Out

“Black Out” begins in a familiar place, as retired crook Jos (Raymond Thiry) wakes in bed on the day before his wedding, next to a severely mangled corpse. Retracing his steps leads him to a series of colorful former associates, none of whom can account for his sudden bout of amnesia, the misplaced hours in Jos’ life, or the corpse that seems like a frame-up. There is a matter of missing cocaine, however: Jos claims he’s kept his hands clean, but everyone insists he’s responsible for the 20 kilos that have gone missing. And now, he’s a dead man walking. Thiry seems like an actor from a different time. He’s got that slacker-y postmodern sarcasm, but it’s not youthful like today’s jabbering American comedians. His is more a studied, handsome disinterest, like Peter Weller or Jeff Goldblum, or Bruce Greenwood if he were allowed to be funny once in a while. His Jos is harried and terrified at first, but amusingly he slips quickly into knowing derision. This is a foolish mad dash to chase a MacGuffin, and Jos can only roll his eyes. Even when the stakes are raised and a dirty cop picks up on his trail (which raises more than a few criminal antennae in town), Jos can barely muster up the energy to curse him out.

Ultimately, the bounty on Jos’ head brings out a phalanx of ridiculous supporting characters. His ex, Inez, wishes he were dead. Local crime boss Grandpa wants to make him dead. His daughters, the leggy, leather-clad assassins Charity and Petra, want to put him in the ground and collect the bounty. The last two, yet another example of the elaborate fantasy of sexy killers in high heels, debate the lack of actual female heroines in film, disqualifying those who don’t count on the basis of revenge. It’s as if Toonen is marking his territory by mentioning both “Foxy Brown” and “Kill Bill”: he’s standing on the shoulders of giants, and he hopes that mentioning it will make you forget it.

Black Out

The movie is like a clown car of bad guys, constantly adding new characters of varying capability. By the time “Vlad The Gay Basher” is performing pirouettes and delivering roundhouse kicks to classical music, the picture feels like it’s standing in a puddle of flop sweat. Thiry’s deadpan, and the film’s core concept of a criminal forced to work within the eggheaded crime syndicate he once operated, are strong enough to hold their own film. Why distract from that with a rogue’s gallery of idiots, like the pair of hijackers who run a dog grooming business and keep stealing items while arguing over proper ransom prices? In case you were wondering, yes: this is one of those movies where a bunch of criminals gather in the same room with loaded weapons and end up accidentally killing each other.

This is also the type of film where an in-car brawl is scored by flying feet that keep accidentally changing the radio station. Toonen keeps the action ripe with slapstick shenanigans that bring down the narrative to the level of cartoon, but it’s never entirely funny. Most of the laughs come from the exasperated banter of people forced to work in a career—crime, specifically the “movie” type—where they have to collaborate with dimwits. But “Black Out” ultimately limps to feature length, burying its intriguing leading man underneath endless mishaps and shenanigans. It’s ultimately desperate to please, finding the audience’s pleasure spot with squib blasts, one-liners, and plot twists. But you walk away knowing nothing much about Jos, his past life, or where he might be headed on the straight and narrow. “Black Out” will pass the time, but the people who like “The Hangover III” and wish it had more ultraviolence are probably the key demographic. [C-]

This article is related to: Reviews, Review, Black Out, Arne Toonen, Raymond Thiry, Kim van Kooten


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates