Well, you can either compare a remake to the original or let it stand on its own merits. For me, I can’t do the former here as (shock horror) I’ve never seen the original Get Carter (people may think I have it in for Michael Caine as I’ve never seen Zulu or even the original Alfie either). So I’ll be looking at this film fully aware that the original is a cult British classic and that the opinion of this Stallone film isn’t high.
But having said that, you’ll find worse films out there. The problem with this one is a couple of things. The script fully relies on Stallone’s character to carry us through from start to end. And while he’s on good bad boy form, he could have turned it up another couple of notches to really make it click. Of course if you do that then you worry about losing your audience, making the character too unsympathetic (or complicated even) and risking a higher rating. But then again this middle of the road rage-fuelled character is perhaps a little too tame for the world he inhabits. And it’s a shame too, ’cause it could have really given Stallone a character that people remembered.
Another issue is the fact that most of the music used dates the film (yes, the hardcore techno stuff). There are also moments of Moby-esque softness which do help, but they’re few and far between.
The supporting cast are an odd bunch. Miranda Richardson, Mickey Rourke and Alan Cumming? Not to mention Michael Caine! Clearly most of this lot are here for a paycheck. Richardson is way above this material. Caine has openly admitted he doesn’t think this film is very good, and Rourke did it ’cause he needed a job (and Sly got him it – which Rourke paid back over a decade later by doing his Expendables role for him).
All of the above actors though, and others, literally come and go. Sly bounces round all of them for like five minutes a time, and then he does a second round of visits, followed by perhaps a final third time he sees them in which he declares either vocally or physically his full intentions of retribution if there is any.
Oh yes that’s right – I forgot to mention the plot. Jack Carter works in Vegas collecting debts with the aid of John C. McGinley (also a big action hero supporting actor – he was in Seagal’s directorial debut On Deadly Ground). He finds out his brother has died and so promptly returns home to find out what’s happened. He opens his own investigation and starts to visit and question every poor or rich slimeball going whilst also opening a helping hand to his extended family. Attempts are made on his life, and even his Vegas goons come searching for him.
There is a decent story here. It just feels largely segmented by all the running around he does between actors – and usually walks away confused by all of them until he finally goes on his violent rampage towards the end. And that rampage is fairly toned down.
The bottom line then is that it was a ballsy move to remake the flick, but the film itself lacked that courage.