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I felt a little guilty not liking John Travolta’s pale imitation of a melodrama. But, as routine reduced to redundant, I got over that.
Travolta stars as an incarcerated Boston area art forger, making a deal to get out early so he can spend time with his dying son. Natch, granddad, who’s been tending the kid, is a crusty old coot (a sad underuse of Christopher Plummer) and the boy suffers all the plot points of teenage brain cancer we’ve seen in far more poignant detail in other pictures. Dad’s got to copy a Matisse to settle his get-out-of-jail-early debt, and the bad guy thieves are cramping his artistic style by imposing not just a deadline, but a dead line, if you know what I mean.
Initially, I wondered why Travolta, who still shows signs of star factor and actor integrity here, would sign on for such a has-been role. And I couldn’t help but wonder if the real life tragedy of losing his own son drew him to this script, where the father risks it all for some time with his failing boy. So, yeah, I wanted to err on the side of generosity. For a while. But as the trite became triter, the emotions more shallow, even the violence never landing a blow, I couldn’t help but acknowledge Richard D’Ovidio’s script and Philip Martin’s direction were about as clichéd as they could get. Not that there haven’t been some really awesome Boston based crime dramas they could have drawn from. Ben Affleck made two of them, Gone Baby Gone and The Town. And Scorsese’s The Departed? Come on! That’s how you pull off a crime drama in Boston ladies and gentlemen.