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Dolan's Cadillac (2009)

DVD Cover (National Entertainment Media)
Director:
Jeff Beesley Jeff Beesley
Starring:
Christian Slater Christian Slater
Emmanuelle Vaugier Emmanuelle Vaugier
Wes Bentley Wes Bentley
Greg Bryk Greg Bryk
Aidan Devine Aidan Devine

5.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Crime, Crime Thriller, Gangster Film, Psychological Thriller
Adapted from a short story by iconic horror author Stephen King, Dolan's Cadillac stars Wes Bently as a vengeful widower seeking to settle the score with Jimmy Dolan, the untouchable Las Vegas crime boss who killed his wife. --AllMovie
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Review by Chad
Added: April 07, 2010
As a youngster, Stephen King was my favorite writer. I read everything of his that I could get my hands on, and whenever I heard a suggestion along the lines of "Well, if you like Mr. King, you might also like so-and-so", I would move on to that person's books. In my ever so humble opinion, nobody quite lived up to the works of the master, and I always came back to his classics to read for the umpteenth time. This period of my life was during the early to mid-nineties, a time in which almost every book the man wrote had either already been adapted or had a trailer on the television promoting its upcoming theatrical release.

So, being a huge fan of the man's books and knowing that Hollywood was making movies out of them left and right, I came up with a little wishlist of his books and stories that really, truly deserved a good film adaptation. At the top of the list was The Mist, and thankfully, that one was done justice. The second on that list was The Long Walk, and unfortunately, that one has yet to receive an adaptation (even though it's been "in the works" for the last ten years). The final one was Dolan's Cadillac, so you can imagine my excitement when the disc finally made its way to my desk.

The storyline centers around the titular Dolan (Christian Slater), a crime lord who specializes in human trafficking. His business consists of illegally smuggling females from around the world into California, at which point, he sells them off to other gangsters to be used in the sex industry. Those who don't look good enough to serve as prostitutes are taken out into the desert and shot. Unfortunately for all involved, a young lass named Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier) witnesses one of these executions, and just like any law-abiding citizen would, she immediately runs to the police. That never turns out good, and even though her and her husband Robinson (Wes Bentley) are placed in protective custody, it only takes one error on their part to allow Dolan's goons to kill the star witness.

Robinson vows revenge, but getting that revenge will prove to be tricky. You see, Dolan is a powerful man, and he's constantly surrounded by armed thugs: simply walking up to him and putting a bullet in his brain is not an option, as was proven when a group of Chinese gangsters tried as much and wound up dead. Robinson spends years watching the man and learning his patterns, and the one glimmer of hope is Dolan's monthly excursion through the desert in his huge, bulletproof Cadillac. Knowing that the man will be more or less alone in a remote area of the world at least twelve times a year is invaluable information, but how will our hero go about exploiting it?

Like most proper films, Dolan's Cadillac consists of two "acts": the setup and the payoff. I'm specifically pointing this out in the review because here, those two acts are like night and day in terms of quality. We'll begin with the setup, an act that I absolutely loathed. It introduced pieces of the storyline that weren't in the book, and though this is to be expected in any novel-to-film adaptation, the pieces that were introduced hurt the film. Adding something to update the storyline is fine by me. Extending key scenes to pad out the running time is also acceptable. Adding in useless fluff that drags the movie down leaves me scratching my head and wondering why. Even though it did lead into the second act, I felt that the entire protective custody aspect could have been dropped, and this is to say nothing about the actual police involvement (hint: I enjoyed that part about as much as I did their protection scenes).

It's not just the storyline that bugged me here, it was also the acting - quite simply, I hated the two heroes. I literally cheered when Emmanuelle Vaugier died as I was sick of watching her butcher scenes, and Wes Bentley didn't fare much better. To be fair, Bentley was horribly miscast here, but let's call a spade a spade: his performance here was awful. Christian Slater was the only saving grace, playing the uber-prick crime boss to perfection... the problem there is that since he's so good in his role and the heroes are so awful, we start to side with the villain. This, obviously, is never a good thing when we're supposed to be rooting for the heroes.

Thankfully, the movie does turn around towards the middle, when we come to the "payoff" part of the running time. This is also where the revenge comes into play, and thankfully, this section of the film was relatively faithful to the novel. Sure, there were a few things changed here and there, but the gist of it will be familiar to those of you who read the book. This plays out on the screen as well as one could hope for, and being a massive fan of the source material, I had a huge grin on my face throughout it all. Wes Bentley was a lot better in this section of the movie, and even though I still can't give him a thumbs up for acting, he wasn't nearly as bad as he was in the opening half. Christian Slater is just as obnoxious and pathetic here as he was earlier in the film, and that is a good thing in terms of delivering a satisfying ending.

Overall, I'm going with an average rating here, maybe a little higher for those of you who enjoyed the book. The first half of the movie was downright painful to sit through, but seeing that revenge play out on the screen was damned entertaining. If you enjoyed the book as much as I did, go ahead and pick it up just for that second act - everyone else should approach with a little more caution. 5/10.
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