It’s a basic narrative principle dating back to the epic tale “Hunter Chase Mastodon” that you tell your shit in chronological order unless it’s more interesting to shuffle the timeline around.
The audience-cheating 6 Ways to Die relates a criminal downfall story backwards in order to conceal an inexcusable Tyler Durden ending that’s completely unestablished by the jumbled-up crap that precedes it. It’s true that audiences like the surprises of adept storytelling, but writer-director Nadeem Soumah’s script is the cinematic equivalent of “What’s that? Made you look!”
John Doe (Vinnie Jones) seeks revenge on cocaine kingpin Sonny “Sundown” Garcia (Michael Rene Walton) by inflicting six serious losses on him: his wife, his money, his freedom, his reputation, a pretty necklace (seriously), and his life. As a premise, that’s pretty solid! In its execution, the film becomes a cascading-failure scenario that proceeds from Soumah’s intention to bait-and-switch the audience, coupled with a lot of suboptimal acting and amateurish editing choices.
Jones has the cushiest job in the film, delivering his entire performance from the comfort of a Cadillac’s leather-upholstered bench seat, where he relates flashbacks of his childhood, which apparently consisted of laughably overwrought silent-era melodrama. Scenes are often punctuated with oddly chosen insert shots of actors making leering faces and cringey smiles, as though edited by somebody with impaired ability to recognize facial expressions.
Top-billed Vivica A. Fox and Tom Sizemore appear for approximately six seconds each, and Walton comes off as the best actor in the film by simply not making any facial expressions whatsoever.
6 Ways to Die
Directed by Nadeem Soumah
Opens July 31, Cinema Village
Available on demand
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 28, 2015