Playing God

Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I won’t deny it - there are some films that I ordinarily wouldn’t have bothered with were it not for a specific actor or actress who worked on the project.  Such was the case with the movie Playing God.  I had no real interest in the storyline and am not a fan of David Duchovny, despite having watched The X-Files for years (I have always felt it was Gillian Anderson who made the show more interesting.)  But Angelina Jolie was in this movie and I am a huge Angelina Jolie fan, so I decided I had to see this film.

            Playing God features David Duchovny as Eugene Sands, a former surgeon who lost his license to due to a serious drug problem that caused the death of one of his patients.  Eugene is content to continue his downward spiral into a drug-induced oblivion and is in a club purchasing drugs for just that reason when he is caught in the middle of a mob war.  A man is shot in front of him and since everyone in the club is reluctant to call for emergency assistance, Eugene goes to work on the man, using unorthodox methods to save his life.  He enlists the aide of several bar patrons, including a woman named Claire (Angelina Jolie), the girlfriend of a local mob boss looking to expand his business.

            Impressed with Eugene’s work, the mob boss, Raymond Blossom (Timothy Hutton) arranges to meet him and eventually offers him a job fixing up injured people in his organization.  Eugene is not thrilled with the idea (neither is Claire for that matter), but is torn between an opportunity to be a doctor again and working on the wrong side of the law.  His involvement with Raymond earns him a visit from the FBI, who persuade Eugene to work as an inside operator, along with an undisclosed operative already inside, feeding the FBI information that will help bring down Blossom and his new would-be partners in the Chinese mob.

            But when things unravel and both Raymond and Eugene find themselves in over their heads, Eugene finds himself in a fight to stay alive while being pursued by the FBI, the mob and Raymond Blossom himself.

            Okay, the storyline isn’t all that good and David Duchovny is as smug as ever in this role, but despite that, I actually enjoyed this film.  Was it Angelina Jolie that made the film enjoyable for me?  Not really, although she was very good in her role.  No, surprisingly, it was Timothy Hutton who made this film worth watching and it wasn‘t just because the script writers gave him the best lines either.  I hadn’t seen Hutton in many films until this one, but Playing God made me take notice of just how good an actor Hutton really is.  He alternates between hippie , intellectual and psychopath so seamlessly.  I loved his acting in this film.

            As for the movie itself, it will appeal to action junkies for the violence, gunplay and chase scenes, but this is not a movie for the thinking man.  This is a very straight forward action film with very little subtlety or symbolism involved.  No hidden messages in this film, except maybe the obvious - look at what being a drug addict got this guy into.  Other than that, this is one of those guilty pleasures for an action film fan and an opportunity to see Timothy Hutton in a terrific performance.  Playing God is one of those movies you watch when you want some mindless action and some eye candy - nothing more and nothing less.


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