Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Movie Review: Green Guys (2011)

Green Guys is an indie crime drama/thriller released last year. It won the Silver Ace Award at the 2012 Las Vegas International Film Festival.

Travis Howard, Andrew Thomas, Billy Adams, and Levi Charles are four young men running an investment scam (Ponzi scheme). They decide to victimize the biggest Mexican drug lord, Tan'el Garcia, who, unknown to them, is being monitored by the FBI. Their meeting with Garcia attracts the attention of FBI agent Mike Northcutt. Northcutt offers Billy immunity if he cooperates with the FBI and gives information about their scam. As problems begin to surface, the four main characters are slowly torn apart. Will they take their white collar crime into something more serious, like murder?

Main Cast:
Kris Lemche - Travis Howard
David J. Phillips - Andrew Thomas
Christopher Redman - Billy Adams
Darrel Davenport - Levi Charles
Nathan Marlow - Mike Northcutt
Roberto 'Sanz' Sanchez - Tan'el Garcia

Director: Cole Mueller


Green Guys is a relatively obscure film since it was released straight-to-DVD last year. Its IMDB rating boggles me -- when I came across a DVD copy of this film a few months ago, I remember looking it up at IMDB and seeing a 7.+ rating. Now, its rating is only 4.0.

Don't let the low rating discourage you, though. It's a decent film. There are no A-list Hollywood stars in it, no fancy stunts or CGI but the story is engaging and the actors are good.

In the movie, the four scammers are living the good life. They live in nice houses and enjoy cigars, nice suits, and private plane rides. They rationalize their crime by reasoning that their victims invest money that these people are not going to spend anyway. They romanticize their crime by identifying with Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Doc Holliday. In their mind, they are invincible and their good fortune will never end. This arrogance cripples them in the end, as we find out that they don't have a Plan B.

The main characters are all con men but with distinct personalities. Travis is the hot-headed, reckless one with a gambling addiction. Billy is the slightly nerdy one who seems to be the most vulnerable among the four. Levi is the serious, ballsiest member while Andrew is the reasonable guy who is the only one who has an emotional bond with someone outside the group (his girlfriend).

The four guys can turn on the charm but they are criminals. There is an early scene showing Levi being a jerk to their call center employees. It's a minor scene but I think it's important, since it reminds the viewers that the characters are just greedy, selfish bastards and not Robin Hood-type antiheroes who are delivering dark justice by stealing from the rich and evil.

The Mexican drug lord Tan'el Garcia, meanwhile, is not as brutal as real-life Mexican drug lords but he comes across as both menacing and likeable -- the kind that you want to be your friend but don't want to be your enemy.

The FBI is portrayed in a good way -- with a persistent rookie possessing good instincts and his boss who is sensible and a firm believer in fidelity, bravery, and integrity.

Green Guys movie poster

The movie is peppered with curse words but has minimal violence, with the violent scenes pretty tame. It is not without fault, as I think a rookie FBI agent cannot arbitrarily give complete immunity to just anyone. Andrew's girlfriend Heather also appears to be a flat and unbelievable character. For a girl who finds out that her fiance is a complete fraud, she is easily pacified. Ugh!


Green Guys had a low budget. According to IMDB, its budget was around $1M but some sources say that its budget was only $130K. The film looks polished and the camera work is good. The low budget is only obvious with the basic looks of the FBI office and Tan'el Garcia's house which is nice but too simple for a drug tycoon's lair.

The scene with the FBI informant as well as the guys' second meeting with Tan'el foreshadow a later event as well as the end. The build-up of the story is good and the viewer can feel the tension as the walls begin to close in on the four criminals.

Rating: 6/10

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