Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Go

By Marc Savlov

APRIL 12, 1999: 

D: Doug Liman; with Desmond Askew, Katie Holmes, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, Sarah Polley, Taye Diggs, James Duval, William Fichtner, Jane Krakowski, Timothy Olyphant, J.E. Freeman, Breckin Meyer. (R, 100 min.)

Relentless and mercurial, this new outing by Swingers' director Liman takes off somewhere around Mach 3 and never lets up, leaving you with either a pounding headache or a wicked grin, or perhaps both. Mucking up the conventions of traditional linear narratives à la Tarantino, Liman has broken his film into three separate storylines that weave and bisect amongst each other until they finally collide head on in the final reel. There's supermarket checkout girl Ronna (Polley), who's late on her rent and facing eviction as Christmas draws near. Her solution? Take over for coworker and sometime Ecstasy dealer Simon (Askew), who's off to Las Vegas to clown around with his pals for the weekend. As luck would have it, a pair of soap actors, Adam and Zack (Wolf and Mohr), show up at the grocery looking for party favors just as Ronna takes over for Simon. Convinced she can work around the absent Simon, Ronna contacts his edgy, tattooed dealer, Todd (Olyphant), scores the drugs, and then, through an unlikely scenario involving fetishes, cops, and Amway, ends up burning the dealer and fleeing for her life. Meanwhile, back in Vegas, Simon and pal Marcus (Diggs) manage to do some burning of their own, which sends them racing back to Los Angeles in a stolen car. Adam and Zack's story cuts in here, but it's so sublimely outrageous that no further should be revealed. If all that sounds confusing, it is, but only because Liman parcels out the information one tiny bit at a time until finally you clap your hands to your head and realize that yes, it does make sense after all. As in his previous film, Liman's direction is crisp and taut; this is a filmmaker with a mission, and though it may not be obvious from the start what it might be, you can feel it humming along in the characters' stop-start dialogue and quicksilver editing. John August's script for Go takes on the L.A. rave scene as honestly and intensely as Jon Favreau's Swingers script profiled the retro-cool smootharama that defined the lounge lizards and the Dresden crowd. Designer drugs, glowsticks, whistles, and teenage chaos are the stuff of Go, along with mayhem and titanic, hilarious acts of irresponsibility. Polley, in the pivotal role of Ronna, deftly holds the whole show together, while Wolf and Mohr toe the line between scared rabbits and flaming egos from hell. Go lacks the craftiness of Swingers; it's far more abrasive and downbeat, and the humor is genuinely bleak. Still, Go never lets up until the bitter, rhapsodic end, which is more than you can say for so much else of what's playing alongside it.
3.0 stars


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