Controversial director/screenwriter Roger Avary returns to the director’s chair with Lucky Day, his first commercial release since 2002’s The Rules of Attraction.
Like his previous film, Lucky Day follows several characters, and it’s unapologetically bizarre. What feels like mere moments after his jail sentence release, Red (Luke Bracey) is already on the run from a sadistic assassin (Crispin Glover) who has a bone to pick with the ex-con. Along the way, Red must protect his daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn) along with his wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev), an abstract artist gearing up for her first show as she also dodges advances and blackmail by the gallery’s pervy owner (David Hewlett). Red also catches up with his partner-in-crime Leroy (Clé Bennett), while standing his ground against an intense parole officer (Clifton Collins, Jr.).
The film’s wicked sense of humour is still planted in Avary’s favourable crass absurdity, which is what I was expecting and wanting from this directorial comeback. Unfortunately, the filmmaker uses Lucky Day to recapture his glory in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, a movie Avary won an Oscar for co-writing. Trying to emulate and bottle that same slick energy in a contemporary movie proves to be a difficult task for Avary which is why, it seems, he tries to straight-up copy his former success.
Bracey and Dobrev look and sound identical to Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeiros in Pulp Fiction, and their characters resemble the same qualities too. Other aspects of Lucky Day follow the retread with Clifton Collins, Jr being the only exception to the Pulp Fiction field of familiarity; but only because Avary has given the actor a character identical to his foul-mouthed lunatic in The Rules of Attraction. The film’s main selling point seems to be Crispin Glover’s involvement, an actor who reserves himself for some of the weirdest roles in Hollywood to fund his even wilder independent projects. Glover works best in roles that allow him to explore the character, but his role in Avary’s action-comedy is spoiled with annoying, unmotivated quirks.
Roger Avary has been out of the game for a while, so I don’t blame him for wanting to fall back on strengths that earned him accolades in the 90s. But the second-rate results of Lucky Day signal that he should’ve challenged himself a bit more.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie