Title: Good Time
Rating: 3 Stars
A mentally handicapped man, Nick Nikas (Benny Safdie), is apparently in a treatment center undergoing therapy when his brother Connie (Robert Pattinson) busts in and takes him.
We next see the two brothers rob a bank. They’re successful, but a die pack explodes, causing them to panic and to flee. In the ensuing chaos Nick is captured, arrested, and thrown in Rikers. There, he does not fare well, and is severely beaten.
Connie bears the full responsibility for Nick being in jail and desperately tries to free him. He first tries to bail him out, but does not have enough money. He then hears that Nick has been beaten so severely that he has been removed from prison and is placed in a hospital. His mission becomes to free his brother from the hospital.
His attempts take most of the night, and fair to say, they don’t go well.
Connie, although deeply caring of his brother, is a violent man with poor impulse control. He thinks quickly, but never wisely. Connie clearly thinks of himself as some kind of master criminal, but his tactics are anything but.
Pretty much everyone he comes into contact with, his brother, his girlfriend, a young woman he befriends, his accidental comrade in crime (Ray), a security night guard, all end up worse off having met him. Everyone who he consciously manipulates into helping him end up being hurt.
In fact, by the end of the movie, when Benny is back in the treatment center, it becomes apparent that this is a healthy environment for him and possibly be the place that he should have been along. Connie’s poor decision of ‘rescuing’ him set off a cascade of many other bad decisions.
The movie was effective at portraying the actions of a violent, desperate man. Pattinson shed his romantic lead heart throb personae and threw himself into the role. His eyes are constantly desperate and calculating. Casting Pattinson was probably a bit of a stunt, but his efforts offset the calculated nature of the choice.
One big demerit is the soundtrack. At various times, it sounded like some odd cross of Hitchcock and Nine Inch Nails and Velvet Underground at their most pretentious. That’s not a compliment. It was grating and annoying and actively detracted from some of the key scenes.
Other than that, the movie was basically episodic. There’s a long side story concerning Ray that could have been shortened.
At times the plot was obvious. There were a couple of plot twists that you could see coming from a mile away. The bank teller took an awfully long time filling the bag. Perhaps that was the point. Connie, who thinks he’s a genius criminal, is willfully blind to things that would be obvious to the even most amateur of criminals. Perhaps Bennie isn’t the only member of the Nikas family that has a below average intellect.
Regardless, it was a good film with adult themes that was grimly entertaining. In the midst of the lightness of summer, that is often enough to make a good movie night out.