December 20, 2017 – This crime drama about a bank robber trying to get his brother out of police custody is a case of non-stop improvisation as one scheme after another fails, the man desperately keeps coming up with new plans. The action-packed story has one misadventure following right on the heels of the last one.
Robert Pattinson of “The Lost City of Z” stars as the bank robber, Connie Nikas, who narrowly escapes police after a bank robbery, but his brother Nick (played by Benny Safdie, who also directs and co-wrote this film) gets caught. During the next few hours, Connie tries a number of increasingly risky schemes to free Nick from police custody.
At first, Connie tries to use the money from the robbery to raise bail for Nick, but when that doesn't work, he tries to break Nick free from the hospital where he is being held, but that plan goes unimaginably wrong. Then he goes back to trying to get more money for bail, after hearing a crazy story from Ray (played by Buddy Duress) another prisoner on the run, about money hidden in an amusement park.
Connie seems like a pretty clever guy who can think on his feet. He seems to be able to talk his way into and out of any situation. He is also a con man, conning his mentally challenged brother into helping with the bank robbery, conning an old woman and her granddaughter into helping him, conning his girlfriend, Corey Ellman (Jennifer Jason Leigh of “The Hateful Eight”) into giving him money for Nick's bail bond.
As shifty and clever as Connie is though, others, like the bail bondsman (Eric Paykert) and a drug dealer, Caliph (Necro) see through him and foil some of his plans. Watching this guy operate, you wonder why he hasn't made more of his life with what he has, either that, or you wonder how he got as far as he did with these crazy schemes.
Seeing Connie quickly shift from one failed plan to another, seeing him quickly make up plausible stories to con others into helping him and seeing him quickly adapt from one tricky situation to the next on the fly, you begin to think he just might pull this off. It is a dizzying juggling act.
Connie is enigmatic. On the one hand, he seems to genuinely care for his brother, but also uses his him for for the robbery and thereby puts him into harm's way. He also uses the cause of freeing his brother as an excuse for taking advantage of others. He also seems to lie about the real reason he is trying to free his brother. Connie is a very interesting character. This is a character worth following, and Robert Pattinson is an actor to watch. Benny Safdie is also a writer and director on the rise. This film rates a B.
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