by Matt Weiner
There was a time in the late 90s when you couldn’t go six months without a quippy crime comedy that was obviously pitched as “Pulp Fiction, but this time you get to be the studio making a boatload of money.” Some of these, like Doug Liman’s Go, were quite good. Others, like The Boondock Saints, belong in the Hague. Most of them, though, were simply reliable—reliably watchable, and equally forgettable.
Thankfully, the new action comedy Pixie takes as many cues from its distinct local sensibilities as it does from forebears like Tarantino and especially Guy Ritchie, the capo di tutti capi of British gangster cinema.
It all starts, naturally, with a drug deal gone bad—and things just get worse from there. Pixie has all the convenient plot twists and beyond belief interconnectedness you’d expect in this sort of crime thriller. But it also has heart, anchored by Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) as the title moll.
A nonstop series of crosses, double crosses and double-double crosses take Pixie and her inept partners in crime on a scenic if slightly murderous tour through the West of Ireland as they attempt to make their big score without getting snared by misfit hitmen, killer priests and country gangsters hot on their heels. This includes Pixie’s own family (with the great Colm Meaney as patriarch, who seems to be thoroughly enjoying this “teddy bear who might also kill you” stage of his career).
For all the contrivances of the genre, director Barnaby Thompson, working off a script by his son Preston Thompson, imbues the film with an archness that keeps the action entertaining even at its most improbable. So much of this falls to Cooke, who switches effortlessly from femme fatale to agent of pure chaos, a beguiling anti-heroine who has figured out how to entice others to clean up the carnage she leaves in her wake.
And if the bawdy jokes, nun-related gunplay and jaw-dropping vistas still aren’t enough, perhaps Alec Baldwin chewing through his scenes and an Irish accent with equal aplomb will seal the deal.