The Briefcase (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Low level criminal Jason (Kid Pardue) has found himself in a real sticky situation. He’s handcuffed to a young man named Dan (Keith Nobbs). They’re on the run in the woods from four mob members including underboss Scope (Daniel Stewart Sherman) and henchmen Khakis (David Vadim), Silk (Nashawn Kearse) and Boots (Josh Alexander). They’re being chased because Dan is holding on to something very important – his missing father’s briefcase, which contains some very incriminating paperwork. And Scope’s angry boss (Vincent Pastore) wants that briefcase back as soon as humanly possible. The only problem is that the group is a bunch of bumbling idiots, so if they’re able to find Jason and Dan it will be a miracle.

“The Briefcase” is the feature-film debut from writer/director Jason Krawcyzk and it’s a winner. Quirky, funny and exciting, “The Briefcase” is a different kind of mob movie. Krawcyzk riffs on the fish out of water theme and takes his villains out of their natural element. The results are delightful with Sherman, Vadim, Kearse and Alexander constantly complaining and screaming at and threatening each other as they try to find Pardue and Nobbs.

Rather than tell the story linearly, Krawcyzk uses flashbacks to fill in the back story so the audience can put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out how Jason and Dan got handcuffed together. These are clever and provide just enough information to keep the story percolating along. Krawcyzk also delivers some nifty scene segues.

Krawcyzk’s screenplay is a model of economy. There are no wasted scenes or overlong monologues. Every scene moves and clicks while every line of dialogue snaps.

The cast is wondrous. Kid Pardue is so natural as Jason that you really believe that the abuse he received at the hands of his father has turned him to a life of crime. Keith Nobbs is appropriately wide-eyed and jittery as Dan. Vincent Pastore plays a familiar role as the mob boss and he slips into his character as easily as slipping on an old pair of brass knuckles. But my highest praise goes to Daniel Stewart Sherman, David Vadim, Nashawn Kearse and Josh Alexander as the bumbling mob posse. They almost steal the movie with their constant sniping and grousing.

Filmed entirely in New Jersey, “The Briefcase” is a different kind of mob movie. It’s a stylish crime comedy that supplies both laughs and thrills. It should also raise the profile of Jason Krawcyzk.

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