It's not a question of who will turn on each other so much as when in this trust-game thriller. Four friends who fancy themselves art thieves suddenly owe a million dollars to a powerful thug (Forest Whitaker). The solutio... more »n they come up with is morbidly ingenious: one will die to save the others. But that's never the sort of pact you can expect people to follow through on, and therein lies the suspense. While it isn't Hitchcock (or even Tarantino), it isn't half-bad and it maintains a compelling pace. With the exception of a cartoonishly written druggie character, the plot holds together fairly well, and the four young leads (including Olivia Williams from Rushmore) are suitably dodgy. Veterans like Tim Curry and Whitaker drop by to help out, and just to make sure you know it's an art-house movie Four Dogs Playing Poker carries the hallmark of all movies with edgy aspirations: onscreen vomiting. Don't think too hard or you'll figure it out early. But if you sit back and relax, you'll have a good time. --Ali Davis« less
Richard W. (rewfilmmaker) from NAPLES, FL Reviewed on 3/7/2013...
I thought this movie deserved a much better rating than it seems to have received. It's a cleverly written whodunit with some fresh faces and some old-timers. I admit that it started to drag slightly in the middle but starts off nicely and builds to an unexpected conclusion. By the end of the movie you'll feel like you know the characters and you'll understand why it turned out the way it did. And the way it turned out hinges on a love story that is deftly woven into into the plot. More Indie than Hollywood; Highly recommended.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Review of John Taylor's Role in Four Dogs Playing Poker
Nicole A. Barry | Astoria, NY United States | 01/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Nigel Taylor as listed in the credits is in the
movie, playing a "hitman" so to speak. The movie is
about 5 people who steal a valuable art piece from
Argentina and ship it back to Los Angeles only to
learn that the art piece is allegedly not on the boat
they put it on. Enter the person to whom it was to be delivered to,
Mr. Ellington and his two hitmen, Dick (J. Taylor) and Tom ... John doesn't say anything in his first scene, but portrays
a hitman with his snarling face and gun pointed at
Kevin's head. The story furthers, with the main characters having to owe Mr. Ellington one million dollars if he doesn't get the art piece, which is due to arrive in 5 days.John does finally talk however, and you get a close-up
of him biting a slice of cheese pizza and even
sniffing his jacket. His scenes although short, were
very well acted, I mean the idea of "sweet & innocent"
John Nigel Taylor playing a mean hitman, if you can
believe it, is something that you have to act on, and
he did it well. My disappointment is not in his
acting but in his role. I felt that his character was
underplayed, and underwritten. Although he wasn't a
main character, I think he could have had a few more
scenes and definitely a better script. But if you are
a die-hard JT fan, then by all means get the film."
Tim steals the show
Sarah Smith | Leslie, Missouri United States | 07/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great movie...in my personal opinion it was completely under-rated. I hadn't even heard of it until a couple of months ago.
Tim steals the show...despite the fact that he dies considerably early. Why is it that he dies in every damn movie? There's something about his English accent that exudes sensuality, and for an older man he is extremely attractive...but to each his own, I'm sure there are those that would disagree with me. Go rent or buy this movie today...you won't regret it."
wolfy_the_black | New Jersey | 01/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just happoned to stumble upon this movie one day after class, and was immeadiatly captured by it. The storyline was intriguing, the actors were suburb, and the ending surprised me. Now whenever I catch it on TV again, I have to watch it! Definatly a must see on a rainy night!"
A Weak Screenplay But An Interesting Basic Premise
Only-A-Child | 02/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You gotta like the "4 Dogs Playing Poker" title but you won't find any of those "dogs sitting around a poker table" pictures in this film. Instead the four dogs are four twenty-something characters recruited by Tim Curry to steal a priceless statuette for a crooked art dealer (Forest Whitaker). Things go wrong and they spend the majority of the movie trying to extricate themselves from their predicament.
They finally settle on a plan to take out back dated life insurance policies and randomly kill one of themselves, using the insurance money to square their account with Whitaker. If all this sounds a bit contrived to you, it might be wise to avoid this film as it requires considerable suspension of logic during the viewing, and even more later when you reflect back on the unexpected twists taken by the story.
The worst part of the whole experience is that aside from the massive plot holes the film is pretty entertaining; making it a frustrating experience since just a little bit of inventiveness by the writer could have successfully closed those holes.
The film wastes little time getting going as the carefully planned theft is already in progress as the titles roll. The team displays just the right mix of amateurism and luck to build some nice suspense and their consignment of the statuette to the purser of a freighter provides some nice ambiguity and foreshadowing.
Things slow down for the remainder of the film and the logic of subsequent events is a bit dodgy. You are unlikely to guess the ending because the director provides insufficient clues. Had there been sufficient information revealed in a form disguised by clever misdirection, "4 Dogs Playing Poker" would have been a real treat.
The most effective tool that the writer/director of suspense films has is the power to show only what they want the viewer to see. This combines with the ability to draw the eye to certain things in the frame and to distract the viewer from more important clues. Manipulating the viewer up to a point but then allowing them free rein to invest each development with their own interpretation (insert "Sixth Sense" and "Kansas City" here). Unfortunately "4 Dogs Playing Poker" simply withholds any important clues. Viewer hindsight does not reveal any reason to feel guilty about not guessing the outcome nor to feel thrilled at being cleverly fooled.
"4 Dogs" has good physical casting with decent performances from the entire ensemble, Curry is excellent and Olivia Williams shows considerable range as there is mega distance between her character here and her extraordinary performance in "Rushmore". Balthazar Getty's close resemblance to Charlie Sheen is distracting but not really a problem.
But to be very good, a small movie like "4 Dogs" must give the viewer complex and realistic characters, particularly when the last half of the movie is more character study than action adventure or psychological thriller. Unfortunately that does not happen and all we end up with are one-dimensional stereotypes that we have no reason to care about. Apparently in their desire to reveal no clues about the resolution, the writer and director excluded anything that might have passed for characterization.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
J. Cadwell | Las Vegas, NV USA | 04/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Four Dogs Playing Poker was a very suspenseful film. Casting as very terrific and it was wonderful that every single one of them can act! Although I am a huge John Taylor fan and was quite disappointed that he didn't get more lines in the film."