“Too Late” (2016)
Directed by Dennis Hauck
Running Time 107 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
One easy way for your movie to sucker me in is by being a long uncut film or by having long uncut scenes/ (“Children of Men”, “Birdman”). I love the technical and artistic achievement it has the guile to attempt in a median that so often cops to the super-chop style that gives me vertigo. Another way to sucker me in is having John Hawkes acting in your film. The long time character actor is ridiculously talented, playing just as ferocious as he can play meek, lovable as juxtaposed to menacing. Dennis Hauck has combined the both is his directorial debut, “Too Late”. Not fair.
While John Hawkes can never be a gimmick, the whole uncut thing can be or at least be just plain fruitless. Brian De Palma's “Snake Eyes” has an awesome almost 13-minute uncut scene to open the film, but not even that and the majestic Nicolas Cage are enough to save it, nor did a long tracking shot in the infamous “The Bonfire of the Vanities” help that movie out any. It does help out “Too Late” however, bigtime. Hauck breaks down “Too Late” into five acts, each being one continuous roughly 20-minute long uncut take that interweaves back and forth via the nonlinear style that is very much in the vein/homage to Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”. It showcases a neo noir murder mystery that’s drenched in 90’s indie crime story format, but that’s shot in 35mm to give it that grainy 70’s look, and all with the super flippin cool Hawkes who can back that dialogue up because that’s what super flipping cool actors do. I hope you’re walk into “Too Late” with an empty stomach, because you’re about about to be served a whopping film buffet of awesome.
Hawkes is Sampson, a rough edged L.A. detective that can’t get out of his own way or go long enough without finding the comfort of another lost soul between the sheets. When a distressed call comes in from a young stripper (Crystal Reed) he met a few years back beckoning for his help, Sampson is on the case following the clues that are paved by the underbelly of Los Angeles where twists, turns, bullets, and sexy women abound.
Hauck, who also wrote the screenplay, peels the onion back making way for Sampson to become a fuller and fuller character. The more his film goes, the stronger it gets. I will say that for such a good film it surely didn’t start off so hot. Hauck’s first act doesn’t feature Hawke but for a few mere moments, and the other seasoned casted actors such as Robert Forster (also always cool) and Jeff ‘Lawnmower Man’ Fahey don’t join us until the second act so without that talent, the first younger bunch of actors aren’t able to grab the noir dialogue with such competence. While intriguing, It’s kind of a rough first 20 minutes but in a weird way it just sets the film up for its impending success.
Hauck is somebody to keep your eye out for. With what appears to be an unwavering vision of what he wants in “Too Late”, and he achieves it.
...unwavering vision of what he wants in “This”, and he achieves it.