Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Crime movies always seem to have neat endings. There's a chase or a shootout, a trial or a confession. "The Opportunists" is messier than that. It is less a matter of the big payoff than the daily struggle. In the movies, most safecrackers are egotistical geniuses who do it for the gratification. In life, I imagine they're more like Victor Kelly, and they're in it for the money. Not much money at that.
Kelly is played in "The Opportunists" by Christopher Walken, and it's one of his best performances. He's a guy who once screwed up big time, and now he's trying to keep his head down and stay on the straight and narrow. He's dutiful. He visits his Aunt Diedre, he brings her home from the geriatric hospital for a day out, and he tries his best with his daughter Miriam. He has an auto repair shop and is just scraping by.
Enter a visitor from Ireland, Michael Lawler (Peter McDonald), who says he is a cousin. He has heard all about the great master criminal Victor Kelly and wants to team up with him on a job. Victor is not interested, but gives the kid a cluttered mobile home to live in. Things take a turn for the worse. Victor's check bounces at the geriatric hospital, his aunt is about to be evicted, and from the way he says, "I had a setback at work," you can tell that setbacks are his way of life. It isn't long until he has agreed to join Michael and two neighbors (played by Donal Logue and Jose Zuniga) in going after a safe.
The structure of the movie is like a low-rent version of the usual caper film. There is the obligatory rehearsal scene, but held while they're sitting on the living room floor. And the attempt to crack the safe itself is less cool than confused. When things do not go right, watch the way Walken's face absorbs and accepts the inevitable. He isn't even angry. It's more like he knew all along this thing would end badly. Instead of suspense and action, the movie links together a series of uh-oh moments, done with perfect pitch.