"Go" is most assuredly an oddity. I remember a review for "Go" back in '99 that states something like, "'Go' is a much better film than it has any right to be." My feelings exactly.
The mark of a good director is being able to construct a good film translated from good script material. However, Doug ("Swingers") Liman's sophomore effort ably demonstrates that with style, intuition, and -- above all -- energy, he can craft a magnificent film from shoddy script material. In Hollywood lingo, this is damn near impossible to accomplish. So, thanks to Liman for smashing that preconception.
EVERYONE that reviews this mentions "Pulp Fiction" for obvious reasons, so I'll be no different. Yeah, it owes a lot to it. But PF owes big debts to other films, as well. Don't look at this as derivatives of derivatives, although some films definitely are. Try to view "Go" as something more cunning and sneaky than one might first think. First of all, attempting to find depth, soul, and social philosophy inside a movie entitled "Go" seems like a moot point to begin with. So roll with me here. That title itself should suggest that it's less likely to offer humane insight and is more concerned with feeling, sensations, adrenaline -- all of which wrap around the present moment: RIGHT NOW. This here is "Go"'s priority. And it's executed to exhilirating effect.
The stories go:
RONNA - needs extra shifts at her grocery store in order to make rent money this month. She takes amateur drug-dealer Simon's shift after a 14-hour stint, so he can go to Vegas with his buddies. But Zack and Adam (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf), two soap opera actors, come calling on Simon but hook up Ecstacy through Ronna (Sara Polley) instead, Ronna dealing in hopes of closing that rent gap. She needs to get pills from Todd Gaines (Timothy Olyphant), but she leaves her friend and coworker Claire (cutie-pie Katie Holmes) with Todd as collateral while she goes off to deal with Adam and Zack. Ronna's "sale" goes dead-wrong, the stash gets flushed, so she opts for selling naive ravers allergy medicine and chewable aspirin to make up the difference, stalling Todd long enough not to find out. But he does. Complications ensue.
SIMON - begs Ronna to cover his shift at the "SONS" grocery store, and she accepts. He wakes up in a trunk, on the road to Vegas, and later acquires the location of a rowdy strip club from Todd over the phone (this phone conversation is the chief link between the first two stories). Simon (Desmond Askew) and pal Marcus (Taye Diggs) leave their gutter-butt friends in the room while they scope out this "Crazy Horse". A lap dance and a gunshot later, and the four guys have two pissed-off bouncers on their heels. Complications ensue.
ADAM & ZACK - are in trouble. Legal trouble, apparently a charge of possession. They decide to play ball and assist undercover Officer Burke (a disconcertingly funny William Fichtner) in busting Simon to clear their record, but Simon's in Vegas. They arrange a deal at the store later with Ronna, and setup the sting house, Burke being the principle dealmaker. At the deal, Ronna senses she's been had after a remark about orange juice, and Zack clues her to book out of there. The stash gets flushed, Ronna bullies her way out of there with a beer they offered her (she's only 17), and the "sale" ends. But Zack and Adam are NOT out of the woods yet. Though they've done what they were instructed, Burke has ulterior motives for the two and invites them over for an early Christmas dinner. Do they really have a choice? Complications (yes, that's right) ensue.
As long and arbitrary as those descriptions are, that is not even a half of what happens in the movie. All the surprises and shocks I left out, but there are many. The timeline jumping and reworking irks QT fans, but that trick's been employed since at least the '50s, so gripe elsewhere. "Go" illustrates how Generation Y (man, I hate these vague labels) is not about planning for the future, but trying to survive this very second. Liman's immediate and flashy camerawork (accompanied by "Traffic" Oscar-winner Stephen Mirrione's gifted editing) accurately captures those sheer moments of frenzy. Rent, sex, drugs, street justice -- all these are the impetuses to shoot the characters through this rollicking 24 hours across Los Angeles and Las Vegas just days before Christmas, and Doug Liman can handle these two Dystopias better than anyone out there, see "Swingers".
But "Go" is no "Swingers". It's darker and edgier, much racier -- a thrilling danger zone in which the viewer doesn't expect a stop in the action, and there isn't one. Though I saw "Go" twice in theaters 5 years ago, I could never pinpoint exactly what was the Main Attraction for me. 5 years later and wiser, maybe I figured it out. There is such earnestness and attitude, especially from the near-flawless ensemble of actors, in Liman's guidance that I conceive of him directing the film as if he were sitting three seats down in that dark auditorium watching the story unfold for the first time, right along with us.
This is a movie I should be discrediting for its lack of substance (even though it's mainly about ingesting substances), but I'm not. "Go" is just too damn fun: guilty-pleasure filmmaking of the highest order. Sleek, funny, sexy, shot full of vitality, don't ever hesitate to "Go" for broke.