The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
The premise has a beautiful simplicity to it. Safety-deposit vaults in Hamburg are being used by an assortment of white-collar crooks to hold money they legally shouldn't possess. There is a supply sergeant who is ripping off the U.S. Army, a shady character from Los Vegas, a guy who deals in drugs, and so on. The thing they have in common is that they can't squawk if they find their lock-boxes empty. They weren't supposed to be full to begin with.
This situation gradually emerges during the first 15 minutes of Richard Brooks' "$", a slick and breakneck caper movie that runs like a well-oiled thrill. Warren Beatty plays a smooth-talking American expert in anti-burglary devices, Goldie Hawn gets a job in the bank and they devise an exquisitely complicated plan that gets Beatty into the bank vault but out of view while the entire bank staff applauds what they think is, a demonstration of the latest Yankee Security devices.
The story is of course much more complicated than that, but twists, turns and double-reverse whammies are the very soul of the caper movie. Brooks, a craftsman writer-director whose recent credits includes "The Professionals" and "In Cold Blood," has fun with the structure of his movie. It works something like recent Robert Altman films; Brooks never stops to explain anything, never lingers over a plot, never bores us with lectures and explanations. Instead, all his characters plunge ahead, obsessed with greed.
Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn are weirdly interesting together. Their acting styles lie at right angles, so you get two textures in the same scene. Since the visual style of the movie keeps whamming textures against each other, this contrast in the acting really works.