Isaac (Yehuda Levi) has been around organized crime most of his life. Mostly trying to steer clear of it and keep his hands clean, he ends up leaving his home in Israel to move to Los Angeles. It isn’t long before he catches the attention of a big shot gangster (James Caan) and finds himself trying to keep himself and his family safe without being completely consumed by the criminal underworld.
Directed by Ellie Kanner and written by Jenna Mattison, neither of whom have any experience with this crime genre of film, the project is inherently ambitious, but unfortunately it does fall flat in many ways. In an interview in the special features, Kanner brags that For The Love of Money has been dubbed the “Jewish Goodfellas,” and that the film has been compared to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. I actually find the film annoying similar to Goodfellas and Casino, and don’t see what there is to brag about in failing to do anything original with your gangster film. I don’t see the Two Smoking Barrels comparison at all. Other than the fact that both films are about gangsters.
The biggest star in the film is James Caan, who does a very good job as the gangster Micky Levine, but honestly it’s not very far out of his comfort zone. These are the movies we expect Caan to appear in. Oddly enough, top billing on the DVD cover goes to Edward Furlong (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), who I haven’t seen in a movie in years, but have always liked him for what he brings to the table. It’s just odd that he gets top billing because he’s not the main character of the film. He actually has a very small role. Plus, James Caan is much more famous, so I’m not sure what the logic is. Furlong does a decent job here as a sleazy disgusting middle-management gangster named Tommy, but it’s easy to forget he was even in this.
For The Love of Money is based on a true story, which isn’t surprising given the film’s pacing and tendency to go off on odd character building tangents, but what makes it interesting is that it takes place in the 70s and 80s, meaning a lot of these guys are still alive and well. I imagine there’s some anxiety in telling a gangster’s story where the gangster’s in question might get offended.
Special features include a behind the scenes featurette, and a collection of trailers from Lionsgate.
Available on DVD from Lionsgate on September 4.