The Bag Man Bags the Violence and the Comedy

In 1998 I watched a movie titled Very Bad Things. It was a black comedy that was horribly violent and unstintingly hilarious. Of course in my small southern town theater I was the only one laughing. Blame it on my quirky sense of humor. Fast forward 16 years and I am watching another black comedy. This one is titled The Bag Man and I am laughing at every unpredictable scene. It too is a very violent film but it has that unexpected quirky sense of comedy that colors every scene.

The basic plot is that a man named Jack (John Cusack) is hired by a man named Dragna (Robert De Niro) to retrieve a bag for him. After Jack gets the bag he is supposed to wait in room 13 of a seedy motel in Louisiana. Dragna will come and get the bag and pay Jack a large amount of money. Dragna's only admonition to Jack is that he must not look inside the bag.

Jack gets the bag and goes to the motel to wait for Dragna. That is when things begin to go from bad to worse. In a few days the body count is high and Jack is still waiting for Dragna to show up. He is being kept company by a prostitute named Rivka (Rebecca Da Costa).

The interesting thing about the movie is that it is totally unpredictable. People pop in and out of the motel and the plot and you are never sure of who or what they are. For example Chrispin Glover plays a wheelchair bound motel manager named Ned. Glover can play creepy easily. But Ned is creepy and sinister, a deadly combination.

Then there is Sheriff Larson (Dominic Purcell). A man of the law should be trustworthy, but something about Ned is just a little off. He seems too easily provoked, and too easily annoyed. He keeps showing up asking Jack questions and none of Jack's answers appear to please him.

Cusack and De Niro are the old pros in this movie and are compelling in each and every scene. They are also able to create the humor even when the situation is deadly. Da Costa jumps right into the midst of things and does her part with flair and ease.

The film is rated R for profanity and violence.

If you are a fan of movies such as Aces High, Very Bad Things and Seven then you should be able to slide right into the tempo of this film. If those movies left you cold then avoid The Bag Man at all costs. Me, I am still laughing at the wildness of all that occurs on the screen in this once in a blue moon type of movie.

I scored The Bag Man a paper or plastic 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper