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Cold turkey in Monaco

Nickey Hernandez

Junkies will do anything to get off smack. Rich ones slip into swanky detox clubs in the Caribbean. The street scum of Amsterdam Methadone get free handouts courtesy of their tax-and-spend socialist state.Losers O.D. in gutters.But old school dragon chasers like Bob (Nick Nolte) prefer a cold turkey trot to redemption. In the highly stylized The Good Thief, Nolte’s Bob gets clean by handcuffing himself to his bedpost, then spending a week face down in sweat, puke and urine until the seductive opiate is leached from hispolluted system.In a telling moment, a strung-out Bob tells a cohort that he’s off gambling and heroin, &quotuntil the job is done.&quot The job in question is a major heist; one that involves priceless works of art and millions of francs stashed inside Monaco’s fattest casino.As with all flinching flicks, The Good Thief involves a super-sophisticated, high tech, thousand-to-one-shot crime that could never occur in real life.Bob, a middle-aged smack head with a gambling jones, is the only crook in France smart enough to pull off the move. Naturally, Bob is a six-time loser,who faces a life term should the French police get wise to his new game of chance.Nolte, no stranger to the exotic world of addictions, was born to play the role of Bob. With his facial crevices and graveled vocals, Nolte takes command from scene one to conclusion. His performance alone makes the film worthy, even if the plot grows overly complex and confusing at times.Additional flavor wanders in from the team Bob assembles for the boost. Lovable louts all, the crew is culled from the underbelly of Old Europe.There’s a transsexual weightlifter with aracaphobia, a heroin-pushing Algerian snitch and a luscious 17-year-old Eastern European junkie/whore with a fetish for broken-down old gamblers.&quotYou look pretty good for your age,&quot the tender tart tells Bob.&quotWhat age is that?&quot he wonders.&quotThe Stone Age,&quot is her snappy response.The assembled heisters on the casino job provide a snapshot of why W. Bush loathes most things Euro. The film suggests the French Riviera is filled withbordellos, degenerate poker houses, back alley opium dens and a Clouseau-esq chief inspector who epitomizes Franco ineptitude with the aplomb of Jacques Chirac.Bob only makes the game harder by passing a bunk Picasso to an underworld art dealer, who does not take kindly to swindlers.&quotWhat I’ll do to your face will definitely be cubist,&quot the homicidal art dealer promises Bob after he discovers the art scam.None of the chatter affects Bob, who lives in the kind of cool fog so common among degenerates, institutionalized inmates and Iraqi Ministers ofInformation.The odds are long and hard against Bob’s elaborate scheme in Monaco, but we love him all the same, mostly because he ends up with that lusty 17-year-old Serbian slut.Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to bet it all on black.Nickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who enjoys all games of chance, especially Russian Roulette.


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