'Real McCoy': Call the cops! Someone made off with all the ideas!

September 10, 1993|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

Dear Film Critic;

My problem is that I'm too smart. I see through everything. Everything bores me. The conversation of my colleagues is so banal that I grow hostile and have lost all my friends. My corporation is on an insane course of self-destruction, but I'm the only one bright enough to see it. The values of our society are transparent and debasing, but no one cares. I'm angry all the time. What should I do?

--Restless in Baltimore

Dear Restless; Bud, you've got to shave off some IQ points fast. All those . . . thoughts, those . . . ideas . . . they'll kill you.

Here's Film Critic's Rx: Go see the new Kim Basinger film "The Real McCoy." It is the real McCoy, a massive anti-brain bomb that will scoop a good 75 to 80 points out of your head. You, too, can achieve the bliss of moronic self-oblivion, with Kim Basinger as your guide. You want to get that EKG flat as a road across West Texas.

Some silly Frenchman (Flubber, something like that) once said "God is in the details," meaning that it was the author's eye for precise observation that made a particular piece of narrative work. Here's "The Real McCoy's" position on details: It has none. No position. No details.

The movie is so vague it could be an infant's dream. Basinger plays a high-tech, legendary bank robber who gets out of prison after a failed attempt at a maximum security job in Atlanta. How did she get into this line of work? The movie doesn't know or care. Her ex-husband is a dreary, uncharismatic used car salesman. How did such a beauty end up married to such a shlub? The movie has no opinion.

A crooked parole officer leverages her into performing one last job for an evil millionaire. Why does this incredibly rich man want to rob banks? The movie doesn't say. What strange business between the millionaire and Basinger lingers into the present plot? Don't ask the movie. It could care less.

At least 60 percent of "The Real McCoy" consists of watching strange custom machines that whirrr, click, spark and chitter do unexplained things to bank security systems. If you like watching steel melt, this is the movie for you. What machines? The movie hasn't the foggiest. What are they doing? The movie won't commit itself. Where would you go to get such a machine? Is there a bank robbers shopping channel on some obscure sector of the cable spectrum? The movie hasn't a whisper of a notion.

Nothing is set up or explained, so the movie has no payoff. It's entirely disassociative, a random collection of anecdotes. There's no particular reason, anywhere in it, why one scene comes before another scene instead of after. It could just as easily come after. In fact, you could run the movie backward and it would be much the same experience of watching handsome, vapid people do incomprehensible things to no meaning or import.

The blurry antecedent seems to be two films that starred Steve McQueen: "The Getaway," in which McQueen is leveraged into performing a bank robbery, and the more negligible "Thomas Crown Affair," in which he puts together an extremely elegant, sophisticated high-tech robbery. But, see, the McQueen films had four things that this one doesn't: A) a beginning, B) a middle, C) an end, and D) Steve McQueen. Does that help, Restless?

--Film Critic Dear Film Critic:

Yes, it does. I feel stupider already.

"The Real McCoy"

Starring Kim Basinger

Directed by Russell Mulcahy

Released by Universal

Rated PG-13

**

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