Anchor Bay / 88 Minutes / 2013 / Rated R / Street Date: April 23, 2013
Hollywood has its magical ways. Somehow Pawn was able to amass an impressive, top-tier cast that lends it the visage of complete credibility. The Shield’s Michael Chiklis returning to the silver screen, Forest Whitaker barking orders as an inquisitive cop – even rapper Common shows up in a role where he goes out of his way to shake his baller credibility in exchange for some evocative dramatic presence.
But Pawn doesn’t work. Getting these solid names into the same room remains a feat of producorial magic no matter how you shake it, but the narrative at hand here is so hollow, so painfully redundant that it’s hard to get through. Yes, after Chiklis shows up at Stephen Lang’s 24-hour diner in the middle of the night demanding what’s in the safe, viewers will find themselves moderately curious as to whether the thief’s plan goes through or not, but as Pawn’s theatrical clichés continue to unfold, it becomes more and more difficult to even call it a fun throwback genre piece.
Chiklis and Whitaker are alone worth the price of admission in most scenarios, but their participation in Pawn can’t liberate its clunky Pulp Fiction-wannabe intentions. Familiarity isn’t crippling when it comes to movies like this – viewers usually would pay extra to see Ray Liotta pop in for a minute in crime flicks (as he does here) – but Pawn quickly proves that it can’t offer more than simple genre charms. Again, you’ll probably want to see how it all shakes out, but you’ll likely groan repeatedly as you do so.