Even when you have all the right pieces, some films just don’t come together.
The Misfits is one of these films.
Directed by Renny Harlin, Misfits is a globe-trotting heist movie that has enough visual style and pop to entertain but gets hindered by a muddled script. Having helmed such films as Deep Blue Sea, Cutthroat Island and Driven, Harlin has always had the ability to bring joy out of weaker material and he does his best with Misfits. (Remember: This is the man who managed to make a shark hilarious devouring Samuel L. Jackson in an underwater lab into an iconic image.) Highlighting the glamour of Abu Dhabi with the glitz and energy of other heist films, Harlin is clearly interested in engaging his audience. Unfortunately, the film’s screenplay can’t stick the landing.
The Misfits tells the story of a team of thieves with a unique vision for their line of work. Led by Ringo (Nick Cannon), these Misfits only take on heists with the goal of stealing from the oppressors and sharing with the oppressed. When they come up against a job that requires a unique set of skills, they enlist renowned criminal Richard Pace (Pierce Brosnan) to co-ordinate their efforts. Targeting the corrupt Officer Schultz (Tim Roth), Pace, Ringo and their team work together to steal millions of gold bars hidden beneath one of the world’s most secure prisons.
Written by Kurt Wimmer, Misfits has lofty goals but seems confused as to how to reach them. Shifting tones and weak character arcs keep the film from maximizing the band of… well… misfits at the film’s disposal. Despite having some solid casting in Brosnan, Cannon, and Roth, the cast are given very little to do that matches their talents. However, having said this, Jamie Chung’s work in the film is easily the most fun to watch. As the potentially violent Violet, Chung is an absolute delight onscreen as she balances mystique with mayhem.
What is most interesting about Misfits is its attempt to somewhat re-invent the heist genre. Rather than bring down a major corporation for their own benefit, these thieves have justice on their minds. Operating like modern day Robin Hoods (although Ringo despises the comparison), this team robs from the rich and give to the poor. In other words, after each job, they refuse to take any sort of reward but always want to give money back to the people who have been taken advantage of. Though the idea of giving back after a heist isn’t new, it’s somewhat refreshing to see a team that takes nothing from their job and only wants to help others.
With this shift in ideology, Pace struggles to comprehend this new attitude of benevolence that he’s asked to embrace. Having built a career looking out only for himself, Pace can’t believe that anyone would go to so much trouble in order to get nothing in return. Though, when his daughter convinces him to give it a try, the wily veteran sets out on something of a redemption arc. Suddenly, his old mindset of ‘me-first’ has been undercut by an interest in leveling the playing field for those in need. There’s little doubt that Brosnan has all the skills necessary to make this sort of character journey believable (and fun). But he’s simply not given enough material to work with to bring it to life.
In a lot of ways, it’s frustrating that Misfits misfires in the way that it does. While it has the seeds to create something really intriguing, the script simply undercuts the end result. As a result, The Misfits ends up as somewhat of a mixed bag. Even though the film offers some entertaining performances and moments, ultimately Misfits may be one you (and its cast) want to leave in the vault.
The Misfits is available on VOD on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.