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A hallmark of this genre (invented by Tarrantino?) is to have people with incongruous-to-gangster traits...I guess these connect the audience to otherwise abhorrent killers/thieves. In this regard they were really trying a bit too hard...the bookie Troy who expresses himself with 80s pop songs...the tender yet brutal Moose. To me it seems like these were the result of an engineered effort to create 'Pulp Fiction-' or 'LS&2SB-' like characters.
But I did like Leo's character.
The movie's scuppered by the ludicrous casting of comedian Brian Conley as a gangster who we see taking a bite of a man's ear in the beginning; he comes off as too playground-villainous to take seriously, and the rest of the movie is just as plausible (tip: do not go and attack and/or threaten people when there are witnesses around, a piece of advice ignored TWICE in the course of the movie). David Logan's script needed some stronger direction and a bit of restraint, instead of piling double-cross upon double-cross until it's soon hard to tell just what the hell's going on, culminating in an "Oh-for-God's-sake!" ending.
"Circus" is diverting enough, but a waste of John Hannah, a bigger waste of Fred Ward, something of a waste of Amanda Donohoe, and an absolutely criminal waste of Famke Janssen (who is not only super-fit but, unlike Conley, actually CAN be convincingly tough - it's impossible to believe she appeared in both this and "X-Men" in 2000 ... then again, she did do "House on Haunted Hill"). What she was doing in this movie we can only speculate; did she fancy a trip to Brighton? Or is she a secret fan of "Rebus"? Or "The Brian Conley Show"?
And one more piece of advice - don't go mentioning "The Sweet Smell Of Success" in your movie, unless you really want to draw unfair comparisons. Mind you, it's preferable to actually going to a circus; I never liked the things.
Janssen and Hannah make a good couple. I have read some reviews that said they were not believable; I disagree. I actually thought they were a cute couple, and that they shared a kind of playful chemistry. The supporting players were also very good, particularly Stormare and Izzard.
Many people have complained about this movie's numerous twists and turns. However, I do not think the outcome would have been the same without them. Also, personally, I like to be surprised.
Really, what kind of disgusting, moronic, cynical crud is this? Even neo-noir films have some character you either feel for or want to feel for, even if they're wretched and doomed; they at least have some decency to them, some sense that what they've done is wrong, or that a seemingly good plan has gone wrong, and that somehow they're stuck with the responsibility for it.
Not in this stanky stew. These characters are putrid, betraying each other, themselves, and the audience.
Also, note that they are low-lives - all right, nothing wrong with that - except that they seem to be living a life of luxury. For a film supposedly about desperate petty thieves, the keynote here is - ennui. It's all so terribly dull and dross, doncha know. So let's just rip some people off or maybe murder them, and go get laid in a luxury hotel. What ambition!
Gooping this whole mess to some bottom of swampy muck are: boringly uneven pacing; predictable 'action' sequences that aren't; banal and incoherent set-design; made-for-bad-TV camera-work and editing; forgettable score; and an entire lack of any imagination or innovation in production and direction.
Wholly unbelievable, unlikeable, and for less dedicated movie watchers(or masochists) like myself, utterly unwatchable.
There are other nasty things I would like to say about this nasty film, but they wouldn't print them here. Suffice it to say, you can probably find something more useful to do with your time than watch this film - just about anything, in fact.
'Circus' is very refreshing, I'll give it that. But I feel like Austin Powers, contemplating time-travel, for I too have 'gone cross-eyed.' I rented this (thank God I didn't see it in the theatre) and found myself rewinding because I was so confused! Sure, they really don't want you to guess the ending, but at the same time, they turn you around so many times try understanding it!
The acting is wonderful. I actually thought Eddie Izzard was great, as was everyone else. I cease to be surprised by John Hannah, who does drama and comedy equally wonderfully. Famke Janssen was interesting enough, and her hick boyfriend was entertaining, as was the little nerdy guy, though his character sort of annoyed me.
I think that this film certainly could've been a lot better...this film-maker had the actors, they just needed to work with the story a little more. Had they taken away some of the twists and turns, they might've gotten a better film.
By the way, these are not all English actors. John Hannah is Scottish. And another thing, I certainly wouldn't compare this to Trainspotting, as Trainspotting was pure brilliance, and this is rather blemished.
see him in more prominent roles. Fred Ward was great in the role as picture book American "baddie". Famke Janssen was a bit bland but is always nice to look at. The movie was very entertaining, I watched it from beginning to end which is unusual for me. Thumbs up!I definitely recommend it to people with a sense of humor.
The producers obviously thought that if they mixed plenty of over-the-top violence with barrages of four-letter expletives they'd have another `Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels' on their hands. A pity that they forgot to include wit, style, charm and flair. And it was certainly a mistake to feature a visit to Welles' classic `The Lady from Shanghai' thus serving to remind us how much better cinema can be.
John Hannah gets his shirt off at every opportunity, a huge American drives around in a Mini Minor as `Circus' pathetically strains for cult status and even the beautiful Amanda Donohoe can't add any class to these proceedings.
If you want to see a good Brit film try the sublime `Wonderland'
John Hannah was very well cast as the laid back, likeable crook.
After watching Snatch (which I thought was an entertaining, but well off-par sequel to Lock Stock) it was refreshing change to see Circus. Admittedly, it isn't as good as Lock Stock, but doesn't try to run in the same lane. It's good old off-beat comedy.
This film will not be liked by Americans for two reasons.
1) It contains irony & sarcasm
2) It is an English film with English actors
Maybe this is why we don't do very well at the Oscars!!
John Hannah stars with Ms Janssen as a pair of crooks who are out to rip off Brian Conley for one last time. Along the way, everyone double crosses everyone, and the final scenes make one's head spin!
Brian Conley plays a rather good bad guy, given the quality of his British television shows, and great support is given by the various cast members, with special mention to Eddie Izzard who plays money lender Troy. His habit of paraphrasing songs and singing them to Leo ("R E P A Y M E - You know what it means to me" to the tune of Franklin's "Respect"), and the scene at the beach make for hilarious viewing.
One to be recommended for those with enough tongue in their cheek!
When I watched this film I had absolutely no idea what was going on. There were too many double crosses and plot twists to make the film believable. The film deserves a 0, but seeing as I there isn't a 0 I gave it a 1.
I wouldn't recommend this film to my worst enemy, I would rather poke out my eyeballs with some rusty scissors than watch this film again. I'm telling you, that was an hour and a half of my life I won't get back.
If you want to watch a gangster film, don't get this. Watch "Going Off Big Time" or "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" instead.
All in all I will say I enjoyed this film, but only after I realized that the plot-line would be very difficult to follow and I would be best-off just sitting back and enjoying the character interactions. That being said, I think I actually followed the majority of it but just barely.
The film was enjoyable because the characters are interesting and the acting is very good all-around. John Hannah put on a pretty good performance. Before tonight I had never seen him in anything other than The Mummy films, which I also quite enjoyed him in, and I must say I wish he was in more films. Very good character-acting from the other actors involved. I particularly enjoyed Eddie Izzard as the quirky yet tough bookie.
However, the film suffered a great deal in the plot-line. The plot was clever, yes, but it was much too convoluted. A lot of things flew by really quickly and even for a person used to complex plot-lines it was hard to follow. Not only that, but it didn't seem like there was much of a distinct plot-line to begin with it. It seemed like things were just happening, and then they all kinda fell together in the end. On top of that there were far too many twist. I got the feeling that the filmmakers really wanted to throw in a twist every five minutes. This kept you guessing but it served to give the viewers really no grip on what was going on at all.
The film would have done much better to lessen the amount of twists and turns, and establish a solid plot-line that the viewers could get a grip on, and let them think they actually know what's going on for a little while, and then start throwing in curve-balls. Of course, I am not the filmmaker, and who am I to tell them how to make their film? But that's just how I feel I would be better gripped by a film of this natur.
All that being said, this film really was enjoyable due to the acting and characters despite being quite mediocre plot wise. 6/10
Possibly the reason it is rated so low by those in the US that do the TV guide starring system is because they don't put much emphasis on character and substance, and may not have been able to follow the plot.
If you want explosions and mindless action with no real plot go watch a Hollywood blockbuster. If you want a little gem that keeps you interested then give this film a try.
It seems impossible in recent years to comment on a British crime film without mentioning Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, supposedly one of the best of 90's British films, so why brake from that tradition because I found this film to be greater in every respect. The lines were funny because of the characters, not because of sarcastic wise cracks or insults. The bad guys were bad and the good guys were good, yet in Lock Stock there was such a viciousness that I didn't know with characters to sympathize with.
This film is more like the old British crime films such as The Italian Job than Lock Stock could ever be. However, I did feel that the inclusion of so many American characters to reach that market was a bit too much, which the other films didn't feel the need to do.
To enjoy this film don't go expecting to see a gritty realistic crime film, although many scenes are gory, just watch a comedy about crime and gangsters and you'll enjoy it more. Viewed as a comedy first is how the film works, apart form Eddie Izzard and John Hannah I don't know how big any of the British cast are in America, but in the UK many of them are famous for having their own comedy series, Brian Conley in particular removed any doubt from my mind about how good the film was, because he was able to turn his comic image on its head and use a brilliant performance as a weapon on an unsuspecting audience.
Enjoy this film as it really is - THE BEST BRITISH MADE FILM THIS YEAR!