October 20, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Get Carter (1971)

Current Status
In Season
112 minutes
Michael Caine, Ian Hendry
Mike Hodges
Warner Home Video
Mike Hodges
Drama, Mystery and Thriller
We gave it a C

Watching Sylvester Stallone growl and grit his parrot beak through Get Carter is a bit like seeing Eddie Murphy do the hyena laugh or Meg Ryan act like a cuddlebug: It’s something we’ve all endured once too often. Stallone, looking overly elegant in a boxy silver gray suit (he’s like a walking magazine spread for the latest trendy Italian designer), is done in by his laid-back scowl, and also by a 30-year accumulation of vicious braggadocio in the movies. In the original Get Carter, Michael Caine was shocking in his casual brutality, but when Stallone’s Jack Carter fixes his omnipotent glare on a lying floozy and says ”I’m gonna break every beautiful bone in your body!” it’s just macho-star boilerplate.

Carter, who goes to Seattle to hunt down his brother’s killer, may have entered a labyrinth of evil, but his response to it — revenge shorn of all vulnerability or nuance — is as hollow as it is monolithic. The only fun is in watching Stallone square off against Alan Cumming, as a crybaby zillionaire, and Mickey Rourke (he and Sly now have matching crinkles on their shoulder muscles), who at this point, with his lopsided cheekbones and good-ol’-boy mumble, is well past decadence; Rourke is like Lon Chaney doing Jerry Lee Lewis. Will someone please give this man a very big, very sick role? C

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