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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

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If it didn't have a big-name director and actors attached to it, this one more than likely would've been passed over by everyone. As it stands, most still won't have heard of it, and only a handful of viewers are going to find it fully appealing.

Eighty-three-year-old director Sidney Lumet (Twelve Angry Men, Serpico, The Verdict) has been steadily working in TV and film since the late 1940s, though he hasn't put out a big-budget film since 1999's Gloria. Here he's teamed with two Oscar winners (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei), three Oscar nominees (Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris) and a Tony Award winner (Brian F. O'Byrne), yet there's simply something lacking.

In need of money for his drug habit, Andy Hanson (Hoffman) cons his equally financially troubled younger brother, Hank (Hawke), into robbing a jewelry store. Trouble is, it's their parents' shop, and when the heist goes wrong, it spins their lives even more out of control.

Most of the pieces of a successful film are here: emotion, quality acting and an interesting story. Somewhere in the process, though, somebody forgot to bring the magic. Perhaps much can be blamed on the timeline that jumps around for dramatic effect.

The film offers drug use, a graphic sex scene and plenty of violence, so it's definitely not for families.

Despite its shortcomings, The Devil is still an interesting, artsy watch. Just don't expect it to bring the kind of fulfillment this ensemble has offered independently in the past.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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