There are a lot of actors who made their initial claim to fame through their “dangerous” persona, Tim Roth, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, Jack Nicholson and in more recent years Colin Farrell, to which I say puh-leeze.
That said, in Romeo Is Bleeding Oldman is out-crazied by Lena Olin… Big time.
Oldman plays Jack, a corrupt cop who takes money from organized crime by selling out informants, witnesses and such. He tells them where the guy is, they whack him. Jack also juggles a wife, a girlfriend and a roving eye, which leads him to get caught by the FBI trying to get it on with a Russian hit-woman he is supposed to be handing over, (enter Lena) as Mona.
Mona gets away, the underworld (headed by Roy Scheider) is pissed, and tells Jack to finish the job personally, or else.
Jack was already a little stressed but this tweaks it up a notch, what with his girlfriend and wife both threatening to leave, and when he finds Mona she counter offers with a payment to tell the bad guys that she has been killed, assuming by the time they work out they were duped she will have left the country.
The basic lesson here is don’t trust anyone, by the time Jack sorts himself out he has Mona and the mob trying to kill him, he loses a couple of toes to the latter at one stage, and over a few meetings works out than Mona is absolutely nuts, and will do anything necessary to get what she wants, and I mean anything.
Everything about this film is just a bit off kilter, meaning that at times it can feel quite surreal. The tone is always kept dark and if anything it is perhaps a bit of an update on the traditional noir films of the early years of Hollywood, only with a twist.
I did like this film, even though it took a while getting where it was going, I guess sometimes you can over-twist things. I have heard some people worship this film and place it right at the top of their all time lists, and they have every right to, though having seen it a couple times I just don’t get it personally.
What I put that down to is I think everyone has a phase where they decide what it is that they actually like, as opposed to what they think they should like, believe it or not some never work this out, which in part explains Gwen Stefani’s success.
During the immediate period after you make your decision you upgrade anything a couple points, for me this caused me to elevate movies like Tremors and Deep Cover, and I suppose for some Romeo is Bleeding is their example.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Watch if only Lena Olin going so far Over The Top that she creates a new level of overacting. (I call it “Lithgow-ing”. )