“Bound” begins as Corky (Gina Gershon) an ex-con who has just finished serving five years in prison for “redistribution of wealth” is starting a new job as a handyman in a high-rise apartment building in Chicago. The woman who lives next to the unit Corky is repairing drops by and gives the impression that she is attracted to Corky. Later, the woman, whose name is Violet (Jennifer Tilly) concocts a ruse to get Corky alone in the apartment where she begins a seductive ploy to engage in a sexual tryst.
Before they finish, Violet’s boyfriend Caesar (the great Joe Pantoliano) arrives home. Caesar is employed by the mafia and specializes in money laundering. When several mafia thugs murder a man that had been skimming money, Caesar returns to the apartment with the stash – 2.7 million in cash – to get the funds in order and find out how the thief was able to obtain it. Wanting to escape Caesar’s control, Violet (who has since had several more dalliances with Corky) schemes with her new lover to abscond with the cash and set Caesar up to take the fall.
The first handful of minutes in “Bound” play out like a bad porn film and immediately drop the movie into a ‘D’ or ‘F’ status. Thelighting is too dark and the acting is suspect, specifically from Jennifer Tilly whose whispering voice and unbelievable facial contortions will make you think she’s actually a porn star and not a legitimate Hollywood starlet (though, since her 30-year resume in film also includes “Liar Liar,” “Relax…It’s Just Sex,” and “Bride of Chucky” to name a few, I use the word legitimate with a grain, make that a pound of salt).
But once the caper to steal the cash begins to unfold, “Bound” turns out to be a pleasant surprise, ripe with several tension filled scenes that will render the viewer nervous as you watch to see just how everything will play out. Joe Pantoliano turns out an award worthy performance as the mafia accountant Caesar. Pantoliano has appeared in too many films to name, though his role in “Bound” most closely resembles his role as Ralph Cifaretto in season three of “The Sopranos.”
Pantoliano is an actual Italian-American and as such can pull off the mafia character with ease and a normalcy lost on some more popular actors who think being an Italian mobster means you have to flaunt greasy hair, designer suits, and an abhorrent accent.
The other noteworthy performances belong to the other members of the crime family (though they are limited with screen time). Christopher Meloni (who would go on to stardom as Detective Elliot Stabler in “Law & Order”) plays the hot-headed Johnnie Marzzone. John P. Ryan plays the even-keeled underboss Micky Malnato and Richard C. Sarafian portrays the don of the family Gino Marrzone. The intense suspense and heart fluttering drama in the middle of the film manage to not only save it but elevate it to watch-worthy status.
Sadly, “Bound” ends with a cliché and predictable final few scenes that drop any momentum gained from the middle back down to sub-par status. All in all, it’s not the worst, it’s not the best. It’s just an average movie.
– by Matt Christopher