Jordana Brewster, Adrien Brody, Hayden Christensen
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American Heist is watchable enough if only for Adrien Brody’s erratic, jive talking performance…
American Heist is the first English language release of Armenian director Sarik Andreasyan, and it’s as bolshy and swaggering as you’d expect from a film that sees Adrien Brody rap.
All tattooed up and twitchy, Brody plays ex-con Frankie, a man returning to his hometown of New Orleans and looking to make amends with his little brother, James (Hayden Christensen). Time doesn’t appear to have healed old wounds and the brothers are quickly at odds. James is living a quiet life, trying to get back with his ex, Emily (Jordana Brewster) – something that’s not going to happen with Frankie back in his life. And within 24 short hours, James finds himself an accessory to murder and helping two of Frankie’s former cellmates to pull a massive bank heist.
Christensen is given little to do but brood, whilst Brewster simply fawns over him. Popular rapper Akon, who curated the soundtrack for American Heist, gets to flex his acting muscles as one of only two black characters – who are violent and vicious. Maybe this critic is looking too deep into the matter, but it feels like a problematic anomaly nonetheless.
That said, American Heist is watchable enough if only for Adrien Brody’s erratic, jive talking performance. He practically inhabits the role of Frankie, making him by far the strongest character in the film. The script by Raul Inglis shows clear influences from other crime movies, which are complimented by Andreasyan’s direction. James’ getaway skills are a nod to Drive, whilst the climatic heist is reminiscent of Ben Affleck’s The Town. There’s also time to wax lyrical about America’s financial crisis ala Killing Them Softly. Whilst this has a detrimental effect of encouraging the desire to dig up the other films, American Heist works well enough to get you across the finish line.