Somewhere – and I mean somewhere deep – inside the movie Knife Fight, there is a well-constructed, albeit infinitely retold, play on morality. Unfortunately, the screenplay feels so bloated, it completely fails to make the point. Here we find some slick pol’s wife, refusing to let his team of handlers “Kobe Bryant” a young girl. There we find the slick pol himself, uncertain whether to go “Sonny or Michael” on said young girl’s ass.
In one way or another, the screenwriters of this film (Bill Guttentag, Chris Lehane) are guilty of stealing from just about every worthwhile movie or TV show that’s come along during the past 40 years. “You have to be the one who’s prepared to bring a gun into a knife fight.” (The Untouchables). “I once dreamed of playing shortstop for the Giants.” (The Sopranos). “Zero. That’s my offer.” (The Godfather, Pt. II). “This is a no-spin zone.” (The O’Reilly Factor). Combine that with an entire rogue’s gallery of caricatures built out of presidential composites dating back to 1920, and it all adds up to a grossly unoriginal screenplay, written with unoriginal flair, starring unoriginal actors, many of whom are more than game to reprise hybrids of their roles from a long-deceased TV series.
Not good. Not good at all, I’d say. Perhaps even worse when you consider this alphabetized list of 15 completely over-the-top metaphors Knife Fight uses to describe what running an average political campaign might feel like:
- A bare-knuckle brawl
- Blood sport
- Bringing a gun into a knife fight
- A legal colonoscopy without anesthesia
- Major League Baseball
- Making kings and queens
- Making the news
- Making the world a better place
- A military guy in Virginia piloting a drone over Afghanistan, launching a missile
- The NFL
- Running a con
- Running a Red Sox flag up Yankee Stadium
- A steel-cage death match
- A video game.
Despite all of this, I would be remiss if I did not mention how utterly fantastic Carrie Anne-Moss is in this film. She somehow manages to rise above the mediocrity, delivering a delightful turn that is both welcome and refreshing, to say the least.
(Knife Fight opens in select cities this Friday, January 25th, and will also be available via the majority of OnDemand platforms as of January 28th.)