FOOLPROOF written and directed by William Phillips, produced by Bill House and Seaton McLean, with Ryan Reynolds, Kristin Booth, Joris Jarsky, David Suchet, James Allodi and David Hewlett. 93 minutes. An Alliance Atlantis/Ego Film Arts production. An Odeon release. Opens Friday (October 3). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 109. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Foolproof is the future of cana dian movies. The near future, anyhow. The government has spoken: any film that wants serious money from Telefilm Canada must be commercial. Foolproof is commercial. But is it any good? Three bright young things plot the perfect jewellery heist as an exercise. Kevin (Ryan Reynolds) is the uptight brain, Sam (Kristin Booth) the reckless tomboy and Rob (Joris Jarsky) the techie slob. Foolproof establishes each character in neon strokes early on.
On paper, the heist is perfect. That's the problem. A British mob boss steals the plans and blackmails them into pulling a real job. A really elaborate job. When they show up with a rig to make a dry ice chute so Sam can slide under laser sensors, you think there's got to be an easier way to get $20 million.
But Foolproof is all about the genius of the scheme, no matter how intricate. In fact, intricate turns out to be the main aim and chief pleasure of this movie. It's best when it's brainy.
On the evidence of this film and his debut, Treed Murray, Phillips is a smart, workmanlike writer-director whose greatest strength lies in working his plots until they're airtight.
But there's no juice in this movie, no sass, and when it tries to ramp up its cool quotient it looks silly. Reynolds gets off a couple of good, smartass line readings, but he looks like he's been reined in. What this movie needs is a real loose cannon, not a character designed, like Rob, to be a loose cannon.
This weekend Foolproof opens on more screens than any other homegrown film ever has. It was made for a fraction of the average Hollywood budget, but it still costs the same 12 bucks to see Foolproof that it did to see The Italian Job, and The Italian Job does heist better.
Even compared to similar-scale films, Foolproof gets no more than a passing grade. Yves Simoneau made Pouvoir Intime in Canada, likely for less money, in 1987.
Commercial has been done, and done better. Maybe commercial isn't the answer.