Time was, once upon a long time ago, you put Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”, “Mozart In The Jungle (TV)”), Ron Pearlman (“Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”, “Hellboy”), Bruce McGill (“Rizzoli & Isles (TV)”, “Timecop”), Stephen Marcus (“The Rizen: Possession”, “Welcome To Curiosity”) and Vinnie Jones (“Snatch”, “X-Men: The Last Stand) in a movie and, notwithstanding the testosterone that’s going on, you’d have the start of something decent.
There’s nothing to say you couldn’t put these people together now, throw in some newcomers, in comparison, such as Lenora Crichlow (“Avenue 5 (TV)”, “Black Mirror (TV)”), Nicholas Braun (“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”, “Succession (TV)”), Brandon Sklenar (“Vice”, “Mapplethorpe”) and others, and have yourself a great movie.
That’s precisely what writer and director of The Big Ugly, Scott Wiper (“The Cold Light Of Day”, “The Condemned”), has done. He’s gathered all these folks together, even got Pearlman and McDowell to produce, and brought us his latest movie.
It’s a movie that should have been nice and straight forward; Vinnie Jones goes on the hunt for the sadistic f*ck (Sklenar) who thinks he can have any woman he pleases, including Jones’ (Crichlow) whom he kills, with said person being under the protection of his gangster father (Pearlman).
Instead, Wiper drags the film out, gives Jones the task of voiceover and interjects various scenes with monologues from characters that are widely out of place with their personas.
This is coupled with the enormous coincidences that, Jones in particular, is given almost from the start of the movie. Knowing no-one other than his boss, McDowell, in the backwaters of USA, he is given a truck, some clothes, convinces someone to buy him a gun, given a place to stay and more. All from people who are struggling, who don’t know this guy, just give him stuff.
One of the characters, Kara, Leven Rambin (“The Hunger Games”, “Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters”), who is Braun’s new squeeze, but whom Sklenar wants, badly, and beats up Braun when he asks him to back off.
Anyway, at one point she says to Jones, “I can see your bad…but not”. She then promptly lets this man stay in her apartment, a man she doesn’t know from Adam.
It’s a movie that could have been over much sooner, ‘just pull the trigger’, but characters don’t, instead talking about ‘the land’, ‘god’, ‘my purpose’, like some 80’s bad-guy telling the hero his plans for world domination.
The action, what little there is in between monologues, is good. There are some good fights, but this adds to the confusion as, when fighting, Jones’ character shows he doesn’t mess about. At one point picking up a rock to smash into someone’s face. It makes some of his other decisions baffling.
The female characters, meanwhile, are left humping the men, dead, or coming across like a damp-squib.
The Big Ugly should have been, could have been, better. But it feels like Wiper and co-writer Paul Tarantino (“Headhunter”, “Newsbreak”) got caught between a number of different stories and plots and tried to smash them all together in one. It didn’t work.