The Movie Waffler First Look Review - LUCKY DAY | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - LUCKY DAY

lucky day review
A newly released convict is hunted by a psychotic hitman.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Roger Avary

Starring: Luke Bracey, Nina Dobrev, Crispin Glover, Clé Bennett, Clifton Collins Jr, Mark Dacascos, Ella Ryan Quinn

lucky day poster

It's safe to say the careers of Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary haven't exactly aligned in the decades since they nabbed an Oscar for their collaboration on the Pulp Fiction screenplay. While Tarantino is one of the remaining Hollywood filmmakers whose every creative whim is indulged by financiers and who in 2019 has delivered arguably his finest work to date with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Avary has struggled to get an array of projects off the ground and now delivers only his third feature film in three decades, the close to unwatchable Lucky Day.

lucky day review

An ensemble crime drama of the type that proliferated in the post Tarantino mid-90s (it even boasts a Pulp Fiction knockoff surf rock score), Lucky Day stars Luke Bracey as Red, a convict who gets released from two years of stir and returns to his struggling French artist wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev) and young daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn). He's blissfully unaware of the arrival in Los Angeles of Luc (Crispin Glover), a psychotic French hitman who plans to murder Red and his family in revenge for an earlier incident.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Non-Fiction ]

Avary's self-indulgent film plays out through three subplots, following Red as he meets with an old safe-cracking buddy (Clé Bennett) with intentions of resuming their business; Chloe as she prepares for an exhibition of her work while avoiding the unwanted attentions of her leery art dealer (David Hewlett); and Luc as he murderises half of the residents of the greater Los Angeles area.

lucky day review

A comedy in the loosest sense of the label, Lucky Day has a crude and immature sense of humour that, much like the film's ensemble crime structure, is a holdover from the '90s. We're asked to laugh at Glover's typically over-the-top performance as his whacko assassin crushes a cop with a car (not an ounce of self-consciousness from Avary, who a decade ago served time in prison for killing a woman while driving under the influence) and rapes a woman, slicing her head off post-ejaculation before tossing his used condom at the dead woman's boyfriend. I'm all for sick humour, but it needs to be, you know, funny, which Lucky Day isn't in the slightest.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Official Secrets ]

Like Tarantino, Avary is clearly a fan of the French New Wave, but while his Pulp Fiction co-writer has found ways to channel Godard's postmodernism into an Americana milieu throughout his career, Avary simply makes two characters French for no good reason. It's hinted that Glover's Luc may only believe he's French, but there's no excuse for Dobrev's Chloe, whose bob haircut is suspiciously similar to those worn by most of the women in the sort of '90s movies Avary is aspiring to here.

lucky day review

There are brief moments that suggest Avary possesses a few ideas of his own and might make for a capable director for hire. A scene in which Luc arrives at Red's home and menaces his housekeeper is effectively sinister despite the hammy acting on display, and wouldn't be out of place in an early Luc Besson movie (oh wait, I just realised who Glover's character is named for). A massacre at an art gallery that turns Chloe's pretentious display of blank walls into a blood-soaked collection of Jackson Pollock-alikes is the sort of gag Larry David would be proud of. And there's a cute reference to the opening of Don Siegel's The Killers, arguably the first Hollywood movie to display a French New Wave influence. But these are brief respites in the film's 98 minutes of insufferable toilet humour, self-conscious dialogue and offensively bad French accents.

Lucky Day is in US cinemas now. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

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