Thursday, January 26, 2012

One For The Money

Classical Loggerheads

The trailer would remind you of the forgettable The Bounty Hunter starring Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston with the former being the titular character whose target happens to be his ex-wife, having them bicker and run from various misadventures together. Reverse the roles in order to have a female bounty hunter going after an ex-boyfriend, and the stage is set for more of the same, no? Not quite. One for the Money has a lot more going for it, predominantly being a film written by and made by females for its intended audience, and being an engaging flick chick that wonderfully encapsulates a whodunnit.

Katherine Heigl seems to be on a successful roll on celluloid, and is in her element here in this romantic action adventure comedy as lead character Stephanie Plum, a rookie bounty hunter drawn to the profession only because she's desperate for a job to pay off impending bills. An ex-lingerie model, we follow her transition from girly girl to a somewhat tough cookie ready to hold her own in her cousin's business, where an added incentive is to hunt down and bring in her ex-boyfriend Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), a cop wanted for the gunning down an unarmed felon.

Yes one would expect the usual laughs coming from her inexperience in a new field, her constantly being outwitted by slier opponents in the big bad town of Trenton, New Jersey, and having that pitch perfect sexual charisma with her mark since they share a common romantic history before in their youths. But to my surprise One for the Money has a little bit more depth in its story than I would have imagined, playing out like a mystery with a crime at hand to solve, with Stephanie stumbling her way from fact to fact, interacting with various interesting caricatures who don't bore, and plays out exactly like an 80s private detective film of old in spirit.

Written by Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray and Liz Brixius off the well received novel of the same name by Janet Evanovich, this probably accounts for a lot of female-centric focus on elements in the storyline, as well as director Julie Anne Robinson's ability to center this very much like a chick flick, wrapped around an old fashioned whodunnit. I mean, only in a story with an attractive female protagonist would you have other females in the story either old, or matronly, and having not one but two hunks - Morelli and fellow alpha-male bounty hunter Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) - involved at the crossroads of her life. Plenty of characterization goes into the lead character of Stephanie Plum, and Heigl brings a certain sass to the role, with little street smarts that cover for her lack of experience in the field.

Granted the mystery doesn't quite play out with that kind of tension and suspense as one would expect from a true blur genre film, but it does enough with its slight touch and managed to keep interest afloat. While there are 18 novels to date in the series of Stephanie Plum's adventures in bounty hunting, with each novel title starting with a number / numerically related, reality is that any subsequent film will have to rely on how much this makes at the box office. My bet is that it'll likely be something quite modest with a potential of 17 more films made only if Heigl wants to be stereotyped (if not already) or typecast. Still, One for the Money sits above average on the entertainment scale, and can be recommended fare if you'd give it a chance.

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