Catch .44 is the embodiment of style over substance.
The film looks great. Writer/director Aaron Harvey clearly has a good eye. If the budget is as low as he implies in the audio commentary, Harvey needs to marry his production designer and his cinematographer. A lot of the visual effects are a little clunky (think the fight sequences in Deadliest Warrior), but good for the budget (which bodes well for the future of indie film).
The acting is also very strong, which is not unexpected given a cast that includes veterans Bruce Willis, Brad Dourif, and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. Most of the fun that can be squeezed from watching Catch .44 is seeing the actors play.
But the twisty crime thriller genre is all about story, and there just isn’t one here. Unlike The Usual Suspects and Reservoir Dogs, to which the marketing compares the film, Catch.44 doesn’t have any surprises, any secrets, or any tension. It’s mostly just people saying they are going to shoot each other and then, in fact, shooting each other.
The characters are poorly drawn and, with the possible exception of Whitaker’s confused psycho, unmemorable. Most have no arcs to speak of. The script doesn’t even keep you entertained with clever banter or intimidating tough-guy talk, another staple of the genre. The dialogue in Catch .44 is clumsy and lacking originality.
The Blu-Ray’s only special feature is the aforementioned feature commentary, which is mostly worth turning on to find out how the movie got made. Harvey, very candid here, admits that little thought went into the plot, which he calls a “situational” story in which the characters are revealed through their actions and reactions.
That would be all well and good except that most people react the exact same way to being shot, which is pretty much all that happens. Harvey also sounds genuinely surprised that he scored such an A-list cast for his movie. I know how he feels.