At this point it would take exceptional writing and directorial style to make much impact in the "anti-buddy"-ensemble thriller field, which has been over-saturated since "Reservoir Dogs." John Covert's convoluted, self-conscious "Waiting for the Man" doesn't pass that test; C-grader's pretensions are closer to blood-spattering, soul-searching Abel Ferrera terrain, and they seem secondhand here. Passable action quotient could shake up some small change as a vid item. B&W opening-credit seg has undercover FBI agent Diehl (Daniel Gately) delivering a long setup explication to fellow Feds about to close down a Chicago Mafia cartel. They already know boss Frank Martel has been murdered, in an attempt to snuff secrets he spilled to a New Agey college prof who may, in turn, be writing a book. Once this news leaks further, crime-ring leadership is up for grabs. Main contenders are Frankie's No. 1 boy, tough-guy-junkie Lindsey (John Harriman), and his less favored actual son, hard-drinking former seminary student Andrew (Covert). A kidnapping, torture and various shootings amidst competing underworld factions ensue.

At this point it would take exceptional writing and directorial style to make much impact in the “anti-buddy”-ensemble thriller field, which has been over-saturated since “Reservoir Dogs.” John Covert’s convoluted, self-conscious “Waiting for the Man” doesn’t pass that test; C-grader’s pretensions are closer to blood-spattering, soul-searching Abel Ferrera terrain, and they seem secondhand here. Passable action quotient could shake up some small change as a vid item.

B&W opening-credit seg has undercover FBI agent Diehl (Daniel Gately) delivering a long setup explication to fellow Feds about to close down a Chicago Mafia cartel. They already know boss Frank Martel has been murdered, in an attempt to snuff secrets he spilled to a New Agey college prof who may, in turn, be writing a book. Once this news leaks further, crime-ring leadership is up for grabs. Main contenders are Frankie’s No. 1 boy, tough-guy-junkie Lindsey (John Harriman), and his less favored actual son, hard-drinking former seminary student Andrew (Covert). A kidnapping, torture and various shootings amidst competing underworld factions ensue.

Writer-helmer Covert reaches for highbrow pulp, but results are neither truly raw nor cooked. Every scene is intro’d by title card naming exact location and time, implying an urgency (and cogency) otherwise absent. Violence is plentiful yet seldom unconvincingly done; ditto perfs, with Kendra James as a silly femme fatale and Gately a Fed more board-stiff than nail-tough. Leads Harriman and Covert strike moody, glam postures. Humorless, platitude-heavy dialogue keeps pushing all perfs toward unintentional self-parody, something pic as a whole acquiesces to long before final blood bath.

Tech work is adequate, apart from some murky sound recording

Waiting for the Man

Production

A Panorama Entertainment Corp. release of an Artist View Entertainment production.

Crew

Produced, directed, written, edited by John Covert. Camera (color/B&W), John S. Terendy, Lynda Cohen; music, Bradley Parker Sparrow; art direction, Robert Johnson; associate producers, John Harriman, Daniel Gately. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, Jan. 12, 1997. (In Cinequest, San Jose Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Lindsey McMahon ..... John Harriman Agent William Diehl ..... Daniel Gately Emma.....Kendra James Coleen Neece ..... Elyse Mirto Andrew Martel ..... John Covert Tommy LaRocca ..... Jock Hedblade Sean Hewlett ..... Joe LaRocca Marco Martel ..... Michael McCullough
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more