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Foolproof

"Foolproof" was touted as a flag-waver for the new approach to spending Canadian taxpayers' dollars -- to make money instead of art. Neither has resulted, really, from this formulaic caper. A swift pace and youthful orientation could help give this a quick theatrical spin Stateside before it makes off with the goods in those video vaults.

Cast:
With: Ryan Reynolds, David Suchet, Kristin Booth, Joris Jarsky, James Allodi, David Hewlett, Mif, Tara Slone, Soo Garay, Laura Cataion.

Living proof that you should never pick a title that sets up critics for an easy ride, “Foolproof” was touted as a flag-waver for the new approach to spending Canadian taxpayers’ dollars — to make money instead of art. Neither has resulted, really, from this formulaic caper, with Ryan Reynolds and David Suchet providing the only recognizable names, while everything else is pretty darn familiar. A swift pace and youthful orientation could help give this a quick theatrical spin Stateside before it makes off with the goods in those easier-to-penetrate video vaults.

Reynolds, “Van Wilder” himself, exercises his smirky charm as Kevin, although the picmakers have groomed him oddly: With his tight suits and short, shoe-polish hair, he comes across as two parts Ben Affleck and one part Pee-wee Herman. Still, this fits with his role as a bland insurance worker who secretly masterminds complicated heists.

He and sometime gal pal Samantha (Kristin Booth), along with buddy Rob (Joris Jarsky), spend their weekends plotting down-to-the-minute, high-tech robberies — with no intention of carrying them out. But along comes Leo “The Touch” Gillette (David Suchet, lending considerable style in a Sydney Greenstreet vein), a real crook who blackmails them into pulling off a job worth $30 million.

The lead-up to the big break-in — involving elevator scaling, security guard timing and laser-beam limbo, of course — is highly engaging. And the various ploys and double-crosses the youngsters try to pull out of the game are amusing.

Keeping the action clicking smoothly at all times (except for some pointless kidding-around scenes), William Phillips shows marked development as a helmer since his painfully thin feature debut “Treed Murray.” As a scripter, though, he too often confuses fast talk and potty-mouth cliches with wit.

The younger characters are given zero life outside their caper, so it’s particularly hard to understand how Sam, tossing her blond locks so insouciantly, became so incorrigible. On paper, she’s nothing more than a bad attitude on legs, and Booth makes everything sound worse with her mechanical, TV guest star delivery.

Ultimately, auds can have little rooting interest in such empty vessels, although as the bearded third wheel Jarsky projects a kind of wounded soulfulness that suggests something going on beyond the motions.

Big wind-up manages to be both satisfying and a bit laboriously executed, with a long how-they-done-it seg explaining nifty double-twists.

Tech credits are fairly routine, but with an impressive value for the dollar, as pic does not look or sound much cheaper than more deluxe studio versions of the same shtick. Nice Toronto locations play themselves for a change, if only on the quiet. With MuchMusic (Canada’s answer to MTV) part of the package, it’s not surprising that the soundtrack features a hip mix of guitar rock, brassy funk and jazzy electronica. Well, everyone knew that part would be foolproof.

Foolproof

Canada

Production: An Odeon release (in Canada) of an Alliance Atlantis production, in association with Ego Film Arts, with assistance from Telefilm Canada, Astral Media, Corus and MuchMusic. (International sales: Alliance Atlantis Communications, Toronto.) Produced by Bill House, Seaton McLean. Coproducer, Colin Brunton. Executive producers, Atom Egoyan, Peter Sussman. Directed, written by William Phillips.

Crew: Camera (color), Derek Rogers; editor, Susan Shipton; music, Jim McGrath; production designer, Stephen Roloff; art director, Adam Koldziej; set decorator, Liesl Deslerais; costumes, Linda Muir; sound, Roderick Deogrades; visual effects supervisor, Anthony Peterson; associate producers, Andrea Mann, Stephen Roloff, Simone Urdl; assistant director, William Spohic; casting, Dierdre Bowen, Jenny Lewis. Reviewed at the Capitol 6, Vancouver, Oct. 13, 2003. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Ryan Reynolds, David Suchet, Kristin Booth, Joris Jarsky, James Allodi, David Hewlett, Mif, Tara Slone, Soo Garay, Laura Cataion.

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