Friday, 18 July 2014

Empire State

Recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Empire State, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (yes it’s one of those ‘The Rock’ films), Liam Hemsworth and the lovely Emma Roberts. It’s based on the true story of an eleven million dollar 1982 robbery from the Sentry Armored Car co., represented in this film as the ‘Empire State Armoured Car co.’, and probably made to capitalise on GTA’s popularity and recent success.

Chris (Hemsworth, but not Chris Hemsworth) is a young man caught up in a neighbourhood where crime is the most popular pastime and the absolute best way to kill a few hours is to kill a few men and to take all their money. Drug pushing, granny pushing, hair pulling, bum squeezing, heroin shaking, salmon arranging, penis showing, vagina misinterpreting and all the other things kids get up to nowadays in the 1980s have become all to commonplace and it makes Chris (not Chris Hemsworth) sad and frustrated.

He decides to do something with his life, as he is a good honest boy, more interested in bettering his community than battering his local newsagent within an inch of his life, so he applies for a career with the Police. Unfortunately, shortly after applying, he gets told that he can’t even take the prerequisite exam. In coming to terms with not joining the Police he applies for a job with a Security firm instead, keeping things secure and securing things, like great big bags of money. Ironically, the place he worked for was less secure than the emotions of a pregnant teenage girl, watching a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, while arguing with her on again off again boyfriend on the phone while at the same time drinking gin cocktails.

Early on in his experiences as a man who carries large amounts of money from one place to another, he gets robbed and his co-worker gets shot to death in the stomach, kidneys, liver and spinal column. This makes Chris sad and he finds out that his friend’s wife is getting no insurance money for his death. Chris and his crazy friend who just had to be called Eddie decide to rob the building he works in to pay the family of his dead comrade, but eventually Eddie robs it for no reason and gets caught up with drug dealers and all kinds of messy stuff like that.

The film is entertaining, the Rock is constantly on their trail but is never a dick about it, and seems like such a nice guy that you wanna just give him evidence and send him to bed with a glass of milk. He’d tell you he drank it but he actually stayed awake guarding your bedroom door against ghosts and WWE wrestlers for you. The pace is not bad, though it starts to slow down near the end, leaving me with the feeling that there wasn’t enough story in relation to the average length of a film. The introduction and the outro were clips from actual news reports of the original crime and an interview with the real Chris Potamitis where he tells you clearly that he has no idea where the money has gone. It’s been done before and it messed with the suspension of disbelief as the only way Liam Hemsworth would grow up to look like the real Chris is due to a bizarre scenario wherein Liam had to eat his way out of a burning building.

I’ve a soft spot for true story crime films, there are many more out there that are much better than this, and there are a lot of films that feel more sincere than this one does, but it is delivered quite lightly and you’ll feel satisfied after it ends… unless you wanted to see Liam or Dwayne take their shirts off.

Empire State gets 3/5.


Dave Roberts

Empire State at CeX

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