Thursday, January 28, 2010

Genres & Judgments: THE BANNEN WAY

As I've repeatedly made clear on the site, I'm a junkie for a certain cache of things, namely some sort of combination of blood, booze, broads and bullets. I've paid more than I care to admit for some out-of-print novels with cover prices listed at 25 cents just to devour some really good crime fiction. Fortunately, they've all been worth it. But nothing beats finding a nice little crime story for nothing at all. Let's discuss The Bannen Way.
A 16-part, original web series from Crackle (more or less Sony's answer to Hulu), The Bannen Way is a pretty entertaining crime-action thriller. Best of all, since it's on Crackle, it's entirely free aside from a handful of 15-second commercials between every other webisode.
Much like Angel of Death, another Crackle series from 2009, the production value is high and the cast largely superb.
Mark Gantt plays Neal Bannen, a super-confident womanizer, yet down-on-his-luck con man who owes money to a gangster. He hails from a criminal family led by his uncle, but for rather vague reasons, is attempting to go clean. But he needs money to pay off his debt to avoid getting clipped, so his uncle sends him on a mission to steal an obscure artifact. In the process of his adventure, Bannen reveals the a list of his family's code, sorta like what Columbus does in Zombieland, such as "Give your opponents two choices...both of which benefit you." These nuggets of wisdom are the Bannen Way. Only thing is, Neal tends not to follow them.
Gantt pulls off the role of charming rouge convincingly and is complemented by a damn-good cast, including Vanessa Marcil, Michael Ironside, Michael Lerner and an especially on-point performance from Robert Forster.
All of this is pretty impressive for a feature that probably didn't have much capital behind it.
The one thing that The Bannen Way does miss the mark with a bit for me is its cadre of antagonists. Although this is not a story seeped in realism, they're overly cartoonish. Lerner plays an over-the-top Jewish mobster ironically named the Mensch, and is joined by a trio of female assassins going after Bannen (one is a buxom blonde wearing a corset and fishnet stockings without explanation in addition to specializing in demolitions -- she is, of course, known only as the Bombshell). If Bannen was given adversaries without the comic-book costumes and nicknames, I think the story would have been better served. Fortunately, not all the big bads are of this nature.
Overall, Bannen was worth sitting through the handful of ads and you can't argue with the price. It's set up for a sequel, and I certainly hope they produce another.
My two forays into Crackle originals have both been very fun. As enjoyable as The Bannen Way was, I feel Angel of Death is superior -- more violence, more unpredictable and more original (I should point out that the reason I sought Angel out in the first place was because it was written by Ed Brubaker, my favorite comic book scribe for a few years running now, so take that for what it's worth).
They're onto some good shit over at Crackle. Check it out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it