`Deuces Wild' is big fight that goes down in defeat

Movie Review


In Deuces Wild, a '50s gangster film, director Scott Kalvert (Basketball Diaries) tells a coming-of-age story with a tone that varies between nostalgia and regret. If only it didn't make you feel such a strong sense of regret for having watched it.

Our heroes are Leon (Stephen Dorff), the relatively even-tempered leader of the Deuces, and Bobby (Brad Renfro), his fearless, hot-tempered brother.

A third brother, Allie Boy, suffered a drug-related death three years before the main action. As a result, the Deuces have sworn never to allow drug dealing into their neighborhood. But the Vipers have other plans.

Complicating matters is the recent release from prison of the merciless leader of the Vipers. Another complication involves Bobby, who has the hots for Annie (Fairuza Balk), the sister of a top Viper (Balthazar Getty).

Shades of West Side Story!

It all could have worked, but exploitative, clumsily staged violence overshadows everything, including most of the actors.

The only one who gets anything going is Matt Dillon, whose regal swagger as the neighborhood's kingpin recalls both Brando and De Niro in their Godfather days.

Mostly, however, Deuces Wild plays a losing hand.

Deuces Wild

Starring Stephen Dorff, Brad Renfro, Fairuza Balk

Directed by Scott Kalvert

Running time 97 minutes

Rated R (violence, language, drug content, brief sexuality)

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