Dick Tracy must stop a mob overlord known as “Big Boy” as he takes over the town by corrupting one official after another…
This film is just fantastic. It is the perfect combination of a fantastic production design style, with a greatly crafted story, excellent acting, perfect direction and great cinematography.
The Story: The basic plot of Dick Tracy is about Big Boy Caprice taking over the town. He starts off with knocking off the head mob boss of the city and his club. From there he extends his reach onto other bosses, their ownerships and finally makes a move for the government officials of the city. Dick Tracy, however, has other plans to bring him down. But with the higher ups working for Big Boy, Tracy finds himself looking to his two loyal detectives, his girlfriend, an orphan homeless boy and a lonely nightclub singer for help to bring him down. The simple plot is easily stretched out over the running time of the film, but it’s a simple concept made complicated. Foiled attempts to bring down the bad guy, failed attempts to kill the good guy. Tracy and Big Boy are at a stalemate throughout the majority of the film. The straw that breaks the camels back is a nightclub singer, the nightclub owned by Big Boy, who falls in love with Tracy. She can either have security as woman to Big Boy, whom she despises, or she can be in love with Dick Tracy and do the right thing by turning in Big Boy, putting her life at stake. (Spoiler Alert – don’t read the rest of the review if you haven’t seen the film yet). The mysterious “The Blank” is also a wild card, offering to get Tracy out of the way for Big Boy.
Warren Beatty – Dick Tracy: He’s the hard nosed detective with an idea always up his sleeve. You’re honorable and badass. He takes nothing from no one and dishes it out accordingly. He plays the role very realistic and it makes him the most identifiable and connectable character throughout the film.
Madonna – Breathless Mahoney: She’s perfect. Wonderfully acted as the “dame in distress.” She’s sexy and you wonder why Tracy doesn’t make a move on her. But it’s because she acts the role perfectly. She’s the forbidden fruit. Damaged goods. Just because she loves you and she’s beautiful doesn’t mean to give up what you had before for her. Well done.
Supporting Roles: The rest of the cast is well rounded out with 90’s B-list actors with their A game. A lot of them are great fantastic actors who just don’t get their due. Also look for the great appearance by Dick Van Dyke and my favorite moment with James Caan and Al Pacino as rival mob bosses during the meeting scene. Dustin Hoffman also shows up as “mumbles.”Directing: Warren Beatty hits the nail on the head in terms of tone, pacing, acting, story, portrayl, cinematography, production design, style. The whole-she bang. My favorite aspects are the casting of Madonna as a night club singer and not using it to showcase her talents, but rather use her talents to showcase the character and the tone of the movie. Aside from that, I love how he worked this production style of very colorful sets and backdrops but kept the lighting realistic. It’s the way to make it work in my opinion.
Cinematography: As noted above, credit to the lighting. The shots are breathless at times and very beautiful. Shot very much how a strict aesthetic comic book film should be shot. Frank Miller please take note.
Production Design: As I’ve ranted, amazing. Solid colors. Pulpy. Comic booky. But yet….realistic. Truly an accomplishment.Editing: Ok, now the pacing of the film I’m fine with. My problem lies with a few of the fight scenes. There’s a speeded up effect applied to some of the punches that doesn’t sit well with me. Now granted, I don’t “hate it”, but it’s a little too much cheese for me.
Score: It’s your boy, Danny Elfman at it again. He does a great job as he always used to. I’m a fan of Elfman’s 90’s work and this is definitely one of his nice jobs. It’s in his style before he found choirs so there’s a lot of trumpet but it works very well with the pulp comic world that Beatty created. Special Effects: Uh….the backgrounds? This was really before the concept of CGI was around so things actually blow up in real life. I’m so glad.
In closing: The movie is fun and serious. Younger kids may not love it all that much and find it boring because it is actually quite dramatic despite it’s aesthetic appearance. I absolutely love it as one of the most near perfect comic-film adaptations of all time. If Road to Perdition wasn’t so amazing, this film would have the comic book to film gangster genre wrapped up. But I’ll say that it comes damn close.