Equally disappointing is the swift disappearance of Willie Nelson's character at the start of the film. His relationship with Frank - so compelling onscreen - almost begs to further complicate the plot and to somehow intertwine itself with the climax. After Frank accepts Leo's proposal to make him a millionaire and to 'take care' of him, Frank is magically secured a new house and car, and even an illegally-obtained baby - after the adoption agency turn him and Jessie down in a telling scene of institutional sanctimony and hypocrisy. But Leo's patronage turns out to have a higher price than expected.
Like the emblematic diamonds Frank must steal for his last gig, the glamorous cityscape suddenly glitters with hidden, untold dangers: there are snipers, FBI agents and corrupt cops hot on his tail. Supported by rigorously roving camerawork and effective photography that wracks up the tension, Frank's quest for individual freedom only leads to further, irreversible entrapment. With anxious fury, he and the viewer are propelled through a maze of streets, tunnels, and tube-like underpasses at night in the hope of symbolic rebirth. But ironically, after building a career on illegal and arguably self-destructive acts, Frank realises that he must self-sacrifice in order to provide his new family with the financial security and safety he has never known. In a finale of double crosses and wholesale violence, the pathos-filled cycle of Frank's shattered illusions and isolation is completed. He becomes a master thief who ends up with tragically far less than he started with.
Christine Jun | @ChristineCocoJ