Get Carter

Directed by Stephen T. Kay
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachael Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Mickey Rourke, Michael Caine.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, some sexuality and drug content.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
October 11, 2000

Ted Lewis' crime novel Jack's Return Home was first brought to the screen in the 1971 British cult film Get Carter, directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine. The next year, it was made into the blaxploitation film Hit Man with Bernie Casey and Pam Grier. And yet, somebody felt that it needed to be made again. With Sylvester Stallone. With a director who's only other credit was one of the lesser Keanu Reeves vehicles. I think it may be time for mandatory drug testing in Hollywood.

Jack Carter (Stallone) is a gangster based in Las Vegas, but he goes back home to Seattle when his brother is killed after driving drunk. Or so everyone thinks! Jack knew that his brother didn't drink, even though he hasn't been around at all in the last twenty years. Obviously, somebody is behind this, and Jack is going to find out.

This seems to upset everyone in the Pacific Northwest. His sister-in-law (Miranda Richardson) just wants her husband's death to be kept in the past. The local pornographer/pimp (Mickey Rourke) doesn't like Jack snooping around, since he is quite obviously the killer. There's also the rich computer entrepreneur (Alan Cumming), who wasn't too friendly with the deceased, and may have voiced his opinion to Mr. Pimp. Only Jack's rebellious niece (Rachael Leigh Cook) takes his side, which I suppose is "ironic".

No, irony is not something that this film is capable of. Oddly, the screenplay was written by David McKenna, who made his debut with the brilliant American History X, and has now crashed and burned. At least the fall wasn't too fast; he did write Body Shots since then, allowing him to pass through mediocrity before hitting rock bottom.

McKenna isn't the only talent to be brought down; Richardson, Cumming, and even Caine (as the dead brother's ex-boss) manage to embarrass themselves. Maybe the director, Stephen T. Kay (The Last Time I Committed Suicide), hates British people.

OK, you see that a lot of people were victimized, but by what, you ask? This version of Get Carter has only clichés for dialogue, and only car chases for action. The watching experience in a nutshell: frightfully bad lines spoken by confused and/or incompetent actors, car chase, guns are fired, more dialogue, more guns fire, then car chase, "Hey, look! It's Michael Caine!", phony yet creepy bonding between Stallone and Cook, one more car chase for good measure, and Mickey Rourke finally dies.

Here's irony for you: the only reason this film made it to theatres was because of Stallone's box office draw. Hey, stop laughing! It sure wasn't for Rourke's popularity.

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Get Carter (2000)

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan