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Call Off the Dogs

Surely many hoped that Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels represented the last gasp of the Woo-via-Tarantino genre of ironic bloodbath capers, yet here comes the latest cinematic hoodlum (this one from Germany), ready to pistol-whip a bullet-riddled dead horse. Or at least, such would seem the sad case at the outset of Knockin' on Heaven's Door: we watch two reservoir slobs running errands for their don, just before their cash and Mercedes land in the hands of two terminal hospital patients who escape their sickbeds for one last road trip.

The story line is thus bipolar, but the requisite car chases and shoot-outs are so lazily staged that we know our closest attention is meant for the

deepening friendship between the ailing road warriors.

This aspect of the film never wanders too far into maudlin terrain, mainly due to the performances of sad-eyed Jan Josef Liefers and Til Schweiger, who radiates Ewan McGregor's cagey intelligence and comic grace. Why anyone felt compelled to dress up a gimpy yet charming, sweet-souled buddy movie in a cheap black suit accessorized with skinny

tie and a .45 is obvious from a commercial standpoint,

but no less dully depressing.


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