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Ca$h (2010) *1/2

April 9, 2010

Written by: Stephen Milburn Anderson

Produced by: Stephen Milburn Anderson and Naveen Chathapurram

Directed by: Stephen Milburn Anderson

Rated R for language, violence and some sexual content

108 min.

U.S. Release Date: March 26, 2010 (limited) and April 9, 2010 (wide)


After no action for more than ten years, writer-producer-director Stephen Milburn Anderson (also known as “Steve Anderson”) pulls it back together with the Chicago-based indie drama “Ca$h”.  Alongside enough shots of the Sears/Willis Tower to trash you in a drinking game, this B-list cast navigates its way through the city of Chicago, as well as pages of clunky dialogue.  However, I will commend any filmmaker that creates a feature film — or a short film for that matter — completely on his or her own because it is quite the undertaking.  So, is there anything redeeming about Anderson’s “Ca$h”?

One sunny day in Chicago, a blue-collar worker named Sam Phelan (Chris Hemsworth) is driving home from work and minding his own business.  As he drives through an underpass, a large briefcase falls onto the hood of his car.  With no other cars in sight, it seems almost as if this briefcase fell from the heavens.  When Sam arrives home to his wife Leslie (Victoria Profeta), he has some great news to announce.  This heaven-sent briefcase is filled with over $600,000 and it’s all theirs to spend!  They pay off some late mortgage payments, buy the newest and biggest TV, they replace all of their old furniture and they get a brand new Range Rover.

I trust that you can see this coming, but the money was indeed not heaven-sent.  The day Sam was driving home, a robbery took place and, while being pursued by the police, the robbers threw the briefcase over the side of a bridge, at which point the briefcase fell on the hood of the Phelan family station wagon.  Things get a little crazy when a mysterious man named Pyke Kubic (Sean Bean) comes by the Phelan house looking for the briefcase that is unlawfully his.  The Phelans are able to produce all the missing money, except for the approximate $200,000 that they already spent.  Unwilling to cut his losses and walk, Pyke threatens the Phelans with their lives.  They owe him all that they spent, and they have 5 days to recover all of the spent money, down to the cent.  Within the next few days, Sam and Leslie find themselves doing things they never imagined in their lives, just to stay alive.

On a visual level, the film actually has a relatively high production value.  At times, the cinematography teeters on made-for-TV, but having done lighting work, I understand the challenges.  On the DVD copy I viewed, the aspect ratio was also a bit off,  stretching the actors sideways at times.  Hopefully that wasn’t the case on all of the film prints going out to theaters – though I can’t imagine that being the case.  Overall, the film had a fairly polished look that gave it the feel of a film that cost way more to make – which is a good thing.

The script and acting, however, was not all there for me.  I enjoyed Sean Bean’s performance, because he knows when a film ventures into “cheesy” territory and throws a little extra ham into his role, which was appropriate in this case.  Chris Hemsworth and Victoria Profeta were definitely on the stiff side of the acting spectrum.  The script did them no favors at all, but on few occasions, actors can lift a bad script above what it is and elevate the film’s overall quality.  This did not happen in “Ca$h”.  With dialogue that was embarrassing to listen to at times, Hemsworth and Profeta played down to their material with a lackluster result.  Hemsworth is definitely the more bothersome of the two, and not only because of his performance in “Ca$h”.  Having played a pretty starched version of George Kirk in J.J. Abrams’s “Star Trek”, and being cast as the title role in Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 film “Thor”, Hemsworth is being thrust into high-status roles and needs to break out of his shell quickly before many films fall flat as a result of his sheepish acting.

Overall, “Ca$h” is probably a last resort rental if you have exhausted all other options.  If you are from Chicago, you may enjoy the scenery of the city because the film makes sure to capture that, but you would have to weather the rest of the film just for scenery.  Go outside and walk around the city instead.  If you are a Sean Bean fan from “GoldenEye” or “Lord of the Rings”, I would recommend seeing him in the “Red Riding” trilogy before you saw this film.  Overall, I applaud the effort and independent spirit of Stephen Milburn Anderson, however there are too many lacking elements – starting with the dollar sign in the title — to bring “Ca$h” above the sea of B-movie rentals out there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 3:38 pm

    David had mentioned that your blog might review the film. I had a feeling that it was going to be not so great, in spite of the great actor Sean Bean.

    Like you, I applaud the efforts of independent filmmakers. I am staunchly against remakes when there are so many new stories to be told. It’s a shame that this was one that could have stayed in the slush pile.

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