The Opportunists

August 18, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

With his chalky pallor and emotionally inscrutable, stoned-troublemaker delivery, Christopher Walken has come on like a tortured misfit zombie for so long now that his spookiness is no longer spooky. As an actor, he seems to have never entirely returned from the Russian roulette parlors of The Deer Hunter. He’s our Method Phantom, a figure who haunts the screen with his patented flashes of ”charismatic” instability.

In The Opportunists, Walken tries to go straight by playing a retired safecracker, a small-town ethnic bub named Vic who scrapes together a living as an auto mechanic and treats his barkeep girlfriend, played by a likably no-nonsense Cyndi Lauper, with wholesome chivalry. But when his cousin (Peter McDonald) shows up from Ireland, Vic is lured into hatching one more crime. It’s a good thing, too, since Walken embodies normalcy like a ghost impersonating flesh; the motions look genuine, but something is missing. The Opportunists is skillfully made, yet the film would have been better if it had tapped a bit of that Walken madness to bust out of its drab, poky little-people symmetries. C+

The Opportunists

89 minutes
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The Opportunists

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