trebe | 11/29/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Greed and revenge are at the heart of director Oz Scott's, Spanish Judges, an offbeat crime drama. Jack (Matthew Lillard) is a criminal type, hired by a wealthy collector to steal the "Spanish Judges" a valuable antique collector's item. Things don't go well for Jack, when the "Judges" are stolen first by another group of criminals, and he unfairly faces the violent wrath of his employer. Max (Vincent DiOnofrio) is a small time hustler, with big ideas about his place in the world. A recent streak of bad luck, is but a temporary setback on his path to becoming a "successful man". A collector of fine antiques, he returns to his apartment, to find that his girlfriend Jamie (Valeria Golino) has home invader Jack, tied to a chair in the middle of his collection. In a conversation on the roof of the building, Jack claims that he has recovered the mysterious "Judges", and plans to exchange them for a million in cash. In return for watching his back during the swap, Jack promises Max and Jamie, a share of the loot. Short on cash, and in need of a breakout score, the pair agree to take part in the nebulous scheme.Piece (Mark Boone Junior), a trigger happy, criminal associate of Max, is also cut into the deal to provide added muscle. Piece's companion, a strange childlike waif, who believes she is from another planet, and is known only as "Mars Girl" (Tamara Mello), completes the rag tag group. Jack is obviously not telling the whole truth, and actively attempts to influence the dynamics between, Max and Jamie, playing to each of their weaknesses and insecurities. All is not what it appears, and soon chaos will erupt among the inept band of criminals. The scheduled exchange takes place, and things take a violent turn. In the aftermath, things quickly start to unravel, and greed takes over. The truth about the "Judges" is revealed, and the mysterious girl from Mars, shows that she may indeed have some strange powers, as both Max and Jack, loose focus at critical moments.Spanish Judges is a quirky little tale, that at its finish, seems to answer most of the questions we may have. The characters are certainly odd, and not particularly likeable, but do strangely come across as believable. Matthew Lillard gives an interesting performance as a man engaged in constant manipulation. And Vincent DiOnofrio"s (TV's Law and Order Criminal Intent) performance as the whining, self absorbed Max, has an enjoyable "theatrical" quality to it. If you like crime stories with a twist, you may want to check this out. Not great by any means, but not a complete waste either."