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Get Lost, 'Carter'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 6, 2000


    'Get Carter' Sylvester Stallone (here with Rhona Mitra) isn't sly in "Get Carter." (Joe Lederer/Warner Bros.)
Just when you thought Sylvester Stallone had finally reviewed his career and realized he should have retired around "Rocky III," here he comes again.

This time, he's the uninteresting, mean-talking antihero in an uninspired remake of "Get Carter," Mike Hodges's cult crime classic of 1970.

As Carter, a brutal debt collector who's investigating the mysterious circumstances of his brother's death, Stallone is so artificial, tanned and leathery you could replace his mouth with a zipper and sell him as a pocketbook.

"You don't want to know me," he keeps saying to tough guys, before beating them to a pulp. He's right. Who would want to know a one-dimensional terminator who struts around with a hilariously misplaced air of movie-star arrogance and sports a ridiculous goatee and Vegas-smooth duds?

I understand why Carter must be successful in his work. People are too embarrassed to be seen with him, so they pay up instantly.

In the movie, directed by Stephen Kay from a script by David McKenna ("American History X"), Carter returns home to Seattle when his brother dies in a fishy car accident. Sensing that his brother was murdered, Carter starts beating the bushes.

This investigation runs him into (holy cool reference, Batman!) club owner Cliff Brumby (Michael Caine, star of the original "Get Carter"), mobster Cyrus Paice (Mickey Rourke, another leathery dinosaur), bar slut Geraldine (Rhona Mitra) and Jeremy Kinnear (annoying little Alan Cumming), a weedy but scheming computer multimillionaire who makes porno flicks on the side.

Carter must also make peace with his brother's family, his widow Gloria (Miranda Richardson) and daughter Doreen (Rachael Leigh Cook), who don't think much of Carter's too-little-too-late big brotherly act.

Naturally, everyone's involved in some way, or we wouldn't have met them. And, of course, Carter must redeem himself. I have seen Steven Seagal movies with more depth.

The idea, I suppose, is for this movie to capitalize on classic cool, the way that "Get Shorty" mined the Elmore Leonard trove. But with Stallone as the centerpiece, this is an uphill battle. He's not cool, he's oily. He's obnoxious, not tough and brassy. And in this movie, the B-movie dialogue falls flat on its face, like a two-bit goon caught in a hail of gunfire.

"You don't fix things, Jack," says Gloria. "You break things."

"There's something you're not telling me," says Carter, to yet another punk he's interrogating.

If there's one piece of wisdom to be culled from this botched project, it's this: No one gets "Carter."

GET CARTER (R, 102 minutes)Contains violence, obscenity and Sylvester Stallone.


Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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