An ordinary not decent movie, or what's the secret to making a criminal a compelling protagonist?
Here's what's wrong with Ordinary Decent Criminal, originally scheduled for release that year but withheld until 2000:
1) Kevin Spacey's character, Michael Lynch, is far too cuddly to be believable as a criminal.Anything offensive about the movie? Maybe this: It lacks the guts to show Lynch committing any truly despicable acts. Doing so would have forced it to work harder to make him a compelling character. That the real Dublin gangster on whom Lynch was at least partly based is said to have been a torturer and a bully who shook down hot dog vendors may make the movie a sin against truth as well as against fiction.
2) The movie contained no surprise not telegraphed from five miles off.
3) The climactic art heist wants to be seen as madcap and zany, but isn't.
4) The movie is all concept and no story. Crook lives with two women, is a good family man, and likes to taunt the cops. And that's it. One knows from the start that Lynch won't be killed, won't be caught, and will get the girls.
So here's a question for you readers: How does a novel, story, or movie make a criminal protagonist compelling without slipping into the opposite extremes of torture porn or excessive cuteness?
© Peter Rozovsky 2014