To Kill or Not to Kill
Release Date: January 01, 1997
Starring: Matt Dillon, Gary Sinise,
William Fichtner , Faye
Dunaway, Joe Mantegna, Viggo
Mortensen, & Skeet Ulrich
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films
Director: Kevin Spacey
Producer: Brad Krevoy, Steve Stabler &
Writer: Christian Forte
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At the bar is Dino, the owner, a waitress, Janet (Faye Dunaway), a fresh-faced boy, Danny (Skeet Ulrich), a French-speaking businessman, and a half drunk customer. The thugs hold these people hostage, while trying to decide what to do with them. Their problem is compounded when it is discovered that the bar has only one exit: the front door.
Tensions escalate inside the bar. Violence rears its ugly head. Lacking a plan for escape, the thugs take their tension out on their hostages. Janet endures lewd threats by Law, who also smashes Dino’s head on the bar counter. Milo revives, but is bleeding profusely. Nevertheless, he seems to be the only one with a cool head on his shoulders, and he is actually using it to think of a way to escape. Dova, the leader, swings from pleading with Milo to come up with a plan, to giving the thumbs up for Law’s unrestrained violence and penchant for killing.
It is the French-speaking man, Guy (Viggo Mortensen), who comes up with a plan, to which Dova finally agrees with the caveat that they take Danny as added security. Conflicts intensify when Dova and Milo disagree on cold-blooded murder. The movie heads toward an explosive end in which surprises and secrets are revealed.
The directing definitely reflects Kevin Spacey’s cool and measured persona, especially in the way the story is staged and unfolds. In fact, the movie’s strongest point is the powerful visual style of its scenes -- sleek, sophisticated and always well-paced. Kevin Spacey’s direction is precise, well-calculated and low-key, with explosive outbursts at all the right moments. The music score was equally effective, providing a similar sense of impending doom.
The sheer predictability of the story and the contrived screenplay takes the edge out of the movie, despite the strong performance from the cast. If the story had provided the occasional twist or turn of events, ALBINO ALLIGATOR could have been a magnificent film.
Halfway through the movie, there is a clue into the origin of the title. Albino alligators are given up as a sacrifice by their own to bait rival alligators. The thugs decide to imitate this behavior, playing gods and deciding who should be sacrificed. The movie’s morality hits an all-time low. Justice does not prevail, wrong-doing is not punished and the bad go free. The film is littered with sins, including random murders, suicide, lying, and robbery. The movie wants to gain the attention of its viewers through gory, in-your-face violence. As if this is not enough, profanities punctuate conversations throughout the movie. Cursing seems to be the only language the film understands.
Many movies like this have been done, and some have gained fame, but there is nothing noteworthy or redemptive about movies like these. They glorify senseless violence, extol the underworld as some kind of heroic lifestyle, and reduce life to nothing more than an object in front of a gun, or at the end of a knife. Movies like these are nothing short of horrible and evil, no matter how stylishly they are done.
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