A crime melodrama without any soul.
Written By: Kelly Masterson
Directed By: Sidney Lumet
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a fine crime drama, the problem lies in its main characters. None of them matter, you are never given any reason to care about what happens to any of them. Because of that Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead ends up being a very by the numbers crime story. The drug use is there, the botched robbery, the showdowns with guns, the shootout ending, it’s all there, and it’s all been done before and with much more meaning behind it. I’m sure there are lots of people who will love the fractured nature of the time line, or the performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, but in both instances I know I’ve seen it before. It’s not that Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is unoriginal, it’s that it takes a tried and true concept and puts it through the motions, but does nothing more than that.
As previously stated Mr. Hoffman’s performance didn’t do much for me because it came across as his stock bad guy portrayal. I did however quite enjoy the work of Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. They are the two characters you end up caring about for a little bit because they give you reasons to care about them, it’s too bad they were shunted to the back of the story so often.
In the end Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead works, but not much more than that. It is a decent crime drama with decent acting, a decent story, a decent use of the time line, a whole lot of decent and not much great. I would recommend a viewing of Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, but it isn’t a film I would put at the top of your to see list, but it is still a good waste of a couple of hours.