Movie Review – Bound (1996)

Warning – spoilers ahead! And I’m really serious, because you DON’T want this movie spoiled. It’s that kind of film. 

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And so Wachowski Month(s) begins, and man, talk about starting off with a bang. Literally.

Let me just say for the record that Bound is about 10 million times better than the two Wachowski films I had seen before I watched it, The Matrix and Speed Racer. I haven’t seen V for Vendetta but it was made after The Matrix and Bound was the Wachowskis’ very first film. Why does that matter? Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. But part of the reason I just haven’t been able to really get into the Wachowskis directing style is because they seem overly concerned with style and weird cinematography and flashy movements than actual storytelling. (*AHEM* The Matrix)

In Bound, the setting is contained, the cinematography, while still a bit whimsical, is calmed down, and what we have is a super fun neo-noir mobster story that had me on the edge of my seat. Not only is this film completely engaging, but it came close to feeling timeless. It’s set almost exclusively in one apartment building but still manages to keep the suspense high. It really reminded me of the Audrey Hepburn movie Charade. 

So, what’s the story? Violet and Corky are two women who meet in an elevator and become attracted to one another. Corky is kind of a tomboyish type while Violet is, well, a mobster’s wife. Or girlfriend. I’m not really sure which. In any case, the two appear to be exact opposites but soon fall in love with one another, share some pretty erotic moments (let’s just say this might be an awkward choice for family film night). But the movie soon launches into the mob drama, with Corky and Violet stealing 2 million dollars from Violet’s mobster husband/boyfriend Cesar by framing the big mob guy’s son, Johnny. This eventually erupts into a triple murder, with Cesar shooting Johnny, Johnny’s big mob guy dad, Gino, and…um, the third guy in the room. Cesar starts losing his mind in a desperate attempt to get the money back and high-tail it out of there before the rest of the mob catches him. Unfortunately, Cesar catches Violet on the phone, and he figures out she and Corky planned the whole thing. The rest of the film is Violet and Corky attempting to outwit Cesar and get the money before the mob finds out.

Not only is this movie fun to watch, it really and truly is clever. Yes. The Wachowskis made something clever. It’s got a very old-style feel to the story and characters. I read online that the directors wanted Joe Pantoliano, who plays Cesar, to model Cesar after Humphrey Bogart’s character in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and you can totally see it. Cesar goes from being this cool guy to absolutely insane, but even at the beginning you get this feeling that he could completely blow up at any minute.

The two leads are pretty awesome too. Corky is a tough, badass, smooth-talking plumber who has a lot of handy tricks up her sleeve – well, handy if you’re planning on stealing something. Violet appears to be innocent and sweet but is…not. Both of them are incredibly fun to watch, and they were a lot of fun when they were together.

The film wasn’t without problems, though. As much as I liked Violet and Corky, there’s a huge chunk of the film where Corky isn’t in it much at all, and I would have liked to see more of her, especially more of the two of them together. There’s a lot of blood in this movie – a lot of blood, so much that I just couldn’t buy the part where two policemen walk into Cesar’s apartment, which literally has blood all over the floor, and not notice it because Cesar has rearranged the furniture a little. It’s also perhaps a little unnecessarily violent – I’m not trying to wave a pacifist flag or anything, but instead of multiple fighting and shooting scenes I would have liked to see more Cesar going nuts or Violet and Corky interacting.

Still, this is a really fun film, and I’m glad I saw it. Now that I know what happens it may not be quite as enjoyable a second time, but then again, it may surprise me. If you like mob movies, suspense, or badass lesbians, this is the film for you.

Good job, Wachowskis. You done impressed me.

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