Dead Presidents (1995) The Hughes Brothers

Production Budget: $15 million

Gross: $24 million

I kind of debated back and forth between making this a bomb or not.  Still going by my definition it still fits my criteria.

The movie is about Vietnam vet Anthony Curtis (Lawrence Tate) who tries to adjust to life back in the states.  There is still discrimination and Curtis has difficulty getting over the trauma in the war.  Eventually, due to money problems, he devises a plan to rob a truck delivering old dollars set for destruction.

If there was a problem with this movie’s release it is that the trailers were dishonest in what the movie was going to be like.  All you see from the trailer are thieves in their ghost white make up shooting guns and you think this movie is a heist movie.  That part only makes up a very small part of the movie.

If I had to liken the movie to something, I would call this movie Deer Hunter Light.  We get an extended period of Anthony and his friends prior to the war, we get some scenes of atrocities, and then his inability to cope with the war.  You would think this movie would be heavy into race issues but not really.  True, Anthony does not get any jobs after the war but that seems to be attributed more to his being a Nam vet and not about his race.  There are some more remarks that African Americans still do not have rights after being in the war but again, it is not capitalized on like it should.

Everything about the movie is a pale shadow of what Deer Hunter is.  All of the high points of the character’s relationships and the lows of the war I kept thinking to myself I have seen it done better.  And I know it’s unfair to expect Godfather from every mafia movie (for example).  However for a movie that tries so hard to emulate that movie (and really try nothing new) I expect it to shine in some aspect.

Also, for a movie where its climax is this robbery, it comes up rather abruptly.  One minute Anthony is having a few difficulties with money and then BAM, he immediately comes up with this robbery plot.  It just isn’t as justified as something like this should be.

The acting is good overall.  Keith David is awesome as usual.  The surprise of this movie is Chris Tucker (yes I am actually saying this) as the fun loving friend who was exposed to Agent Orange.  The weak point is actually Lawrence Tate as the main character.  He does okay but doesn’t quite play the role of a grizzled war vet who has problems with drinking and Nam flashbacks.

This movie is not bad.   It’s actually an okay movie.  However this movie isn’t anything special either.  Dead Presidents treads over tired ground and has nothing new and has nothing to have it stand out among its peers.  I take it back; it has Keith David winning an ass kicking contest with one leg.   But other than that I can’t really recommend it to anyone to seek out and watch.

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