Retro Film Review: Top of the World (1997)

in #aaa29 days ago


The name of Sidney J. Furie usually isn't associated with any particularly important or memorable film (except the one that torpedoed Superman franchise in 1980s). However, in the long career that director showed great diversity of genres, styles and quality. That diversity can be found in his 1990s films, each being different in its genre, settings and, finally, its ability to entertain the audience. 1997 action thriller Top of the World belongs to the less successful ones.

Protagonist of the film is Ray Mercer (played by Peter Weller), former policeman who has just left prison after serving time for minor embezzlement. He comes to Las Vegas in order to finish divorce with his wife Rebecca (played by Tia Carrere) who works in casino. While waiting for formalities to be finished, Ray defies his parole conditions and enters one of the casinos. There he makes 500,000 US$ worth of jackpot, but his luck is short-lived because the casino just happens to be hit by the gang of robbers. It doesn't take much for police to pin Ray as the likely participant in the robbery. Ray escapes and, together with Rebecca, tries to prove his innocence. In doing so, he discovers that casino's owner Charles Atlas (played by Dennis Hopper) staged the robbery in order to swindle his Mafia partners.

The saddest part of Top of the World is seeing otherwise capable and dependable character actors like Dennis Hopper, Peter Coyote, Joe Pantoliano and Martin Kove sleepwalking through their roles. Even Peter Weller, who can be quite effective in low budget and unambitious films, gives impression of caring very little for his role. Furie as director gives impression of caring even less for the film as a whole, especially in the action scenes that look like they were shovelled into the plot. Some of them are repetitive and annoying, especially the surreal and endless three-way rollercoaster chase between protagonists, gangsters and police. It wouldn't take much for audience to conclude that this film is closer to the bottom than to the top.

RATING: 2/10 (-)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on January 22nd 2004)

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