Viking Night: Go
By Bruce Hall
September 13, 2011
Don't you hate it when you're trying to buy drugs for someone and you get held up by weirdo cops, stalked by psycho junkies and run down by a car and left in a ditch for dead? Yes, sometimes life is just SO unfair. So it is with Ronna (Sarah Polley), a down on her luck grocery cashier in turn of the century Los Angeles. She takes her grimy, minimum wage job as seriously as any disaffected twentysomething - working long shifts, glowering contemptuously at customers and filching store merchandise on her breaks. So it’s no surprise to find out Ronna is a little behind on her rent, and is a day away from living on the street. It’s not exactly a charmed life, so when a solution presents itself Ronna jumps on it.
Her coworker and occasional friend Simon (Desmond Askew, looking like a ginger Jude Law) offers to give up his shift, plus cash up front if she will fill in for him while he slips off to Vegas with friends. Ronna’s already been on for 14 hours but a buck’s a buck, so she takes the deal. Unfortunately, Simon is also a small time pusher, picking up a little scratch on the side from the slimeballs he meets checking out orange juice and menthols at his register. Two of those slimeballs, Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr) show up looking for their usual score and find Ronna instead of Simon. Adam and Zach are on their way to a rave (remember those?) and they need to score some Ecstasy (remember that?) bad.
Desperate for money, Ronna pretends she knows what to do and concocts a cunning plan. She arranges to use Simon’s dealer to hook up the boys AND score enough money to cover her rent. It should be immediately obvious to anyone with a brain that things are going to go terribly wrong. But when you’re in Ronna’s situation (and who hasn’t been?) brains take a backseat to Benjamins. So despite the advice of her slightly less foolish friends, Ronna dips her toes into the wonderful world of drugs and violence. But she finds that Simon’s dealer Todd (Timothy Olyphant) is an experienced seller of perceptual enhancements and is therefore not impressed with her amateurish pitch. Meaning of course, Ronna gets the pills, but leaves behind her friend Claire (Katie Holmes) as collateral when it turns out she doesn’t quite have the money to cover her order.
Drugs in hand, Ronna heads for the meet with Adam and Zach, hoping to get the rest of the money and complete the transaction. Only she finds that the drop is a setup. The drugs get ditched, but Ronna finds a way to get her money back from Todd and heads to the rave herself, where she sells a handful of aspirin to a room full of drug fiends for a tidy profit. Unfortunately, Todd uncovers the deception and from there - it’s on. The movie might have been over at this point but Go is the handiwork of Doug Liman, the wunderkind who brought us Swingers back in 1996. But as I have often discussed in this column, back then you weren’t anybody until you’d ripped off Tarantino - and Liman was no exception to this. Go isn’t a bad movie, but it isn’t nearly as clever or interesting as Swingers, and the shameless aping of Pulp Fiction is a bit of a shame coming from someone who created one of the defining independent films of the 1990s.