STRETCH

★★★

Dir: Joe Carnahan (2015)

Action film junkie Joe Carnahan gets to direct a sort of movie centric version of The Hangover; A comedy of errors, a race against time and somewhat blunt analogy of the Hollywood movie system. The Patrick Wilson driven Stretch plays well with its B-Movie whimsies as a down on his luck limo driver tries to make enough money in one night to pay off his past gambling debts. While delivering some really memorable lines and fine and frantic performances from Wilson and a marvellously deranged Chris Pine as a bearded, addicted billionaire, Stretch revels in a spiralling chain of events which gets our poor driver deeper and deeper into a mad LA night.

Wilson’s Kevin is a stereotypical LA type, busting a day or night job with a much bigger plan in mind and Carnahan knows the territory well. Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff put in scenery chewing cameos as heightened versions of themselves behind the limo’s glass partition but it’s Pine and Wilson who do the most damage in the best possible way. Kevin sees Pine’s high rolling Karos as his way out and he needs to keep him on side to get a hefty four figure tip. A job easier said than done as the fire bug, coked up sex addict sends him off to pick up a briefcase full of money from a seedy night club. Android bouncers, $10,000 entry fee sex parties, guns, prostitutes and tattooed henchmen fill the bulk of Stretch but Carnahan keeps everyone’s tongue in their cheek.

Stretch‘s downfalls are obvious; It’s  a straight mash-up of Todd Phillips‘ record busting comedy and Michael Mann‘s dark and seductive Collateral and the mix often doesn’t zing as well as it should. Ed Helms a dead, previously great, driver is another ghostly mis-step and the set up (a heart-broken man looks for one last chance) and the near unending voice-over in the film’s opening both feel very lazy and very knowing simultaneously. That being said it soon settles into an actioner groove; like a 33 being played at 45 and there are serious smarts under a very, very dumb film. Wilson and Pine are great but poor Jessica Alba is kept at a long distance phone call conversation length which is a real shame unless Carnahan was commenting on the treatment of women inside the dream factory. Maybe he was?

___________________________________