'Giovanni Ribisi's character moves too often from madness to slapstick, as he and partner in crime Gabriel Macht prove too stupid to believe.'
If you ignore Middle Men's slightly suspect heritage (more on that later), then there's a fun if flawed film here to enjoy, part dark comedy, part gangsta thriller; think Snatch-lite with the action moved to Hollywood and Luke Wilson rather unpredictably taking over the Jason Statham role. There's not many people claiming their 'manor' is 'Lawndan Tawn' but there is humour paired with genuine malice to the same kind of effect.
Wilson, an actor increasingly making a career from popping up ad-hoc in places you wouldn't expect to see him, gets through largely on charm rather than talent. Jack Harris (Wilson) is successfully portrayed as the victim at most points, although on occasion the writing from director George Gallo and Andy Weiss seems to slip up, tarring him with deeds beyond those of the anti-hero. Consider too the occasionally odd storytelling; he's a quiet and honest family man thrust into this life on the fringes of crime, but early on he's also a low level mob enforcer. Similarly, Giovanni Ribisi's character moves too often from madness to slapstick, as he and partner in crime Gabriel Macht prove too stupid to believe.
Gallo does well keeping things fun and funky for the most part, although the editing gets choppy occasionally and a bit less time in flashback mode could have done the film wonders. The budget of $22million seems to have mainly been spent on the lead three and a near-cameo by James Caan, when some better cinematography and location sheen could have done the film wonders.
There's also the distinctly sticky matter of the film's post-credit disclaimer, which calls into question the entire basis Gallo uses for his narrative. Some brief searching into Christopher Mallick (the real life Jack Harris) also hints that all is not quite as rosy as Middle Men wants it to be. If you can manage to ignore that though then the fictional story is, by and large, still one that entertains enough.
'a bit messy, and a bit disjointed, but Middle Men also features some very good writing' - Dan The Man's Movie Reviews, 6.5/10