City Of Industry

on March 14, 1997 by Cathy Thompson-Georges
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   What has Quentin Tarantino wrought? "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" were both perfectly fine films, which is one thing; but the spate of stylish, empty, ultra-violent kindred littering the cultural landscape is quite another. "City of Industry" is just another in a long line of slick-yet-gritty, bloody-hip imitators. Only Harvey Keitel's redoubtable presence, and an intriguing glimpse at the dusty and unglamorous underbelly of L.A., provide reasons to watch this Largo production.
   "City of Industry" opens with a jewel heist that goes like clockwork until the theatrical and unstable getaway driver, Skip (Stephen Dorff), decides he doesn't feel like splitting the take with his cohorts. A bloody massacre follows, which leaves family men Lee Egan (Timothy Hutton) and Jorge (Wade Dominguez) dead and master thief Roy Egan (Keitel) determined to avenge the death of his brother Lee. He enlists Jorge's oh-so gorgeous wife ("GoldenEye's" Famke Janssen) to help him take Skip down. Dishonor among thieves, revenge as a manly duty, giggling psychos: "City of Industry" hardly misses a cliche. The one place where the film feels fresh is its look at L.A.'s rarely filmed eastern suburbs, shabby and burglar-barred. Also intriguing is the meeting of black and Chinese gang elements among Skip's underworld associates, but this isn't really explored, just used to provide a little Chinatown color to the proceedings. Keitel is fine and looks convincing with a gun in his hand, but he could do this role in his sleep; he's already played it in other, better movies. Roy is a tormented yet ruthless professional killer, capable of appalling violence yet reeking of inner decency--a character purely of the movies, with no real-life counterpart. Likewise, Dorff can find nothing to interest us in Skip, who is a showy scriptwriter's contrivance. Despite its title, "City of Industry" doesn't really work. Starring Harvey Keitel, Stephen Dorff and Famke Janssen. Directed by John Irvin. Written by Ken Solarz. Produced by Evzen Kolar and Ken Solarz. An Orion release. Action/drama. Rated R for strong language, violence and some sexuality. Running time: 136 min.
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