There are two primary rules when it comes to making a suspense thriller centered around a suitcase full of money: 1) include a handful of twists that the audience won’t see coming, and 2) for Christ’s sake, please maintain a certain level of awareness. Swerve manages to do both, and it allows for a good bit of fun in between. Craig Lahiff’s screenplay is taut, and tight, and it’s trying very hard to land somewhere between a Tarantino movie and something early Coen. The only problem being Swerve‘s not nearly nuanced enough to make a run at Tarantino, and it’s not nearly ambiguous enough to rival either Coen.
Despite that, Swerve‘s a worthwhile movie. It’s got sex and violence, and a ton of overt references to everything from There Will Be Blood to Jaws. But in the end it all circles back to The Treasure of The Sierra Madre, which was – of course – a morality play, one that hinged upon the notion that money is the root of all evil. To its credit, Swerve maintains the feel of something relevant, which explains why a lot of great storytellers keep tapping Traven‘s well – a tiny wrinkle here, a little plot twist there, and you’ve got yourself a marketable concept.
PS Jason Clarke is pretty fucking awesome in this movie, much like he was in Zero Dark Thirty and The Great Gatsby (Clarke’s work on Swerve was apparently completed long before the release of either). There’s something irresistible about the stunning combination of power and compassion behind those stark blue emerald eyes.
(Swerve opens in limited release this Friday, December 6th.)