There’s a moment in Good Time where Robert Pattinson takes a brief respite from the chaos around him to watch an episode of “Cops”. The rest of the 100 minutes show our main character’s overwhelmed thief and those around him engaging in activities that might land them on the long running program. They do keep their shirts on, but their level of criminal sophistication is on that low bar level.
The hand-held camera work from the aforementioned TV show is present as well. Yet brothers and directors Ben and Josh Safdie employ plenty of other creative touches to create a crime flick far more interested in style not substance. The film’s title could only be described as ironic as no one’s time here is that. It’s frenzied and panicked. And almost everyone here is up to no good.
Connie (Pattinson) is a two-bit crook in New York City with a mentally challenged brother Nick (played by co-director Ben Safdie) that he’s overprotective of. We begin with Connie breaking him out of a therapy session and taking him to a bank robbery gone wrong. Nick gets arrested and thus begins a night long odyssey of Connie trying to bail him out.
That journey involves all sorts of vile types that match Connie and some that he takes advantage of. His erratic older girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) belongs in the former category. A sixteen year old girl (Taliah Webster) whose grandmother’s apartment he hides out in is more the latter. Connie also unexpectedly teams up with fresh out of jail alcoholic low life Ray (Buddy Duress), who manages to be a more clueless delinquent than our main subject.
For a stretch, Good Time mostly succeeds due to Pattinson’s commitment, a pulsating electronic score from Oneohtrix Point Never, and a couple developments in the crazy night that are surprising. Bringing Connie to a bizarre amusement park to retrieve acid and cash is an admirable left turn. So is a journey into Ray’s backstory of an idiotic first day out of the slammer.
Eventually it grows tiresome. There’s been plenty of crime tales with no one to root for, but these characters can’t manage to sustain the time worth spending with them. The Safdie brothers have plenty of impressive visual flourishes. Maybe next time the storyline will be a better time spent with bad people. It happens occasionally here, but not enough. I’ve watched “Cops” marathons with similar types that held my interest longer.
**1/2 (out of four)