Doug Liman’s second feature Go, is an E-ticket ride. Although many reviewers have compared it to Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, some even calling it a rip off, we have to keep in mind that Tarantino didn’t invent time shifting story lines, awesome dialog, or multiple viewpoints. Go has it’s own story to tell, and it’s dark as midnight and funny as hell. It’s all about unintended consequences and the unwritten rule of comedy that anything that can go wrong probably will.
Everything starts with Ronna (Sarah Polley) who is about to be evicted, and desperately needs some quick cash. She’s just finishing her shift at the grocery when Simon (Desmond Askew) offers her his shift. Then he can go to Las Vegas with his buddies.
Ronna is working her double shift when two daytime TV actors, played by Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf, approach her to purchase some drugs. she sees this as a one-time opportunity to get the cash she needs. She’s unaware that the actors are part of a police sting operation being run by Burke (William Fichtner). Things go rapidly down hill from there.
At the same time Simon and his friends are having fun and getting into all kinds of trouble in Las Vegas. It doesn’t take long before the errors in judgment pile so high that they have to make a run for it. Naturally the trouble will follow them home.
This is a movie where everything moves fast. There are twists and turns that raise the stakes and there’s always a sense of urgency. The characters and plot lines collide in unexpected ways.
In a movie with an ensemble cast it’s important to make each character unique. When there are eight key roles, some fairly brilliant writing and solid acting are an absolute must. In the case of Go, every character has a unique voice, and each is interesting in their own zany way.
Part of the established format for movie reviews is the plot summary. I’m not going to do that here. I would count it as a spoiler. Instead I’ll give a brief review of the key characters.
Ronna, played by Sarah Polley. The supermarket check out girl, broke and in a dead-end job. She needs to raise money tonight to avoid being evicted. Ronna is one of the two drivers of the story.
Simon Baines, played by Desmond Askew. The wacky and totally irresponsible Brit, just looking to have some fun. Simon has zero concept about the potential consequences of his actions.
Claire Montgomey, played by Katie Holmes. Ronna’s friend and more of a supporting character.
Adam, played by Scott Wolf, and Zack played by Jay Mohr. The daytime TV actors roped into the police sting. They are trying desperately to find a way out of the mess they’re in, but everything they do makes the situation worse.
Todd Gains, played by Timothy Olyphant. The drug dealer with no moral center who nevertheless does Ronna a ‘favor’ which has zero possibility of working out. A very nice performance by Olyphant.
Burke, played by William Fichtner. The cop with kinky motives of his own. Just when you figure out how creepy this guy his, he raises creepy to a whole different level. The dinner party scene is a lesson in writing comedy for the screen.
Marcus, played by Taye Diggs. The cool black guy who is more experienced and centered, but with this crew it doesn’t help much.
Some other notes.
John August is credited with the screenplay. This guy is one to watch. He written Big Fish, Titan A.E. and two Charlie’s Angels films since Go. He also has a website focused on screenwritng. JohnAugust.com
Doug Liman directed Go and also served as Director of Photography. I would say he’s one to watch, but he’s already gone on to direct the first of the Jason Bourne movies and was executive producer on the second and third features. It’s fair to say his talent was recognized.
Director’s and Editor’s commentary
The commentary track is a gem. It’s all about guerrilla film making. You’ll learn how editing can make or break a movie. About going back to reshoot scenes and key insert shots needed by the editor. Some key scenes were shot a month after principle photography. Some other pick up shots were done on the fly, without permits or even a crew. Liman just doing what had to be done to get the film to work. For film buffs and serious students this material is golden.
Making of Featurette
The featurette only runs 6:20 so that’s a little disappointing. The positive part is that it’s not just another “Everybody was talented and wonderful” mutual admiration society clip. It’s really more of an extended trailer, well done for what it is. But if you really want the inside dope on how and why the movie got made, you won’t find it here.
“New” by No Doubt
“Magic Carpet Ride” by Phillip Steir (featuring Steppenwolf)
“Steal My Sunshine” by LEN
Unfortunately all are in 1:33 format or widescreen cropped to fit into the 1:33 format, with all the expected loss in video quality.
There are 8 deleted scenes, all interesting. Like most good movies, these don’t add enough to the story to warrant being included. Go was edited tight and works fine as is. I’m a fan of Deleted Scenes since they provide some insight into the director’s process. So much appreciated.
It’s on the disk. Also on YouTube: Trailer for Go (1999)
The standard filmography-bio’s that are out of date by the time you see the DVD.
Subtitles : English subtitles only
Languages : English
Zack: It really didn’t go as bad as it could have.
Adam: A girl is dead, Zack.
Zack: I didn’t say it went perfectly.
Claire: Gay men are so hot. It’s tragic.
Claire: You’re making me an accessory!
Ronna: Okay Claire, that bracelet of mine you’re wearing, that’s an accessory.