Call him Stretch. Kevin’s his real name, but Stretch is what Kevin asks people to call him. Is it because he’s stretched so thin? Stretch is a bummed out, burned-out limo driver in Los Angeles. Yes, his name is Stretch, one of those obtuse single-name guys like Bullet or Kojak or Batman. Here, Stretch is Patrick Wilson. He talks a lot during his own film. So very much. He talks an irritatingly obvious amount. For example, when a competing limo driver shows up at Stretch’s bungled pick-up for a seemingly insane David Hasselhoff (a real cameo), he offers up this crackling observation of his competitor:
“The ‘Jovi.’ He lorded over his company Cossack with an iron fist and a white-maned hair metal band wig that looked like Dog the Bounty Hunter had been dropped into a deep fryer. I don’t care how it sounds. That hair scared the living shit out of me.”
It’s not Marlowe, that’s for sure. It’s not even Thompson. What is this? Wait, why would Stretch, let alone any person, talk like this?
Hey, Joe Carnahan, did you not get the memo? Everyone stopped trying to play Quentin Tarantino over a decade ago, and you’re just annoying folks now. Didn’t you get tired from over-exerting yourself with Smokin’ Aces, The A-Team, and Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane? We get it. You’ve got spunk. You once pitched Aces as if Fellini made an action film, and we’ve been snickering at that ever since. Still, it’s 2014, and now you’re making a hyperactive variation on Collateral: down-on-his luck chauffeur wanders into the night and witnesses seedy things, from Mexican/Russian organized crime to luchador minis running out of an orgy. Stop it. Be somber, Joe. No need to be petty. We really like your sterner stuff, like Narc and The Grey.
Deep beneath the snotty showboating is a funny concept: a black comedy about competing limo drivers and L.A.’s vanity-driven, liar-loving culture. When Stretch wants to have a laugh and mock the shallows of the City of Angels, it’s amusing, like a second-tier FX sitcom about dicks.
When it tries to talk tough, playing fast and loose with a “dude’s crazy night” concept, Stretch runs out of gas quickly. The last act settles down only after too much ground is covered, when you quit trying to keep up. It’s then that the film finally crystallizes its nutty, willful plot twists, and quits with all the narration.
Wilson’s never seemed so beat, and you’ll know why. Ed Helms is a ghost haunting Stretch. Stretch encounters the dumbest voices and accents imaginable via cops and mobsters. Cheap rock and synth music pervades; an M83 “Outro” knock-off happens, likely because this baby went straight to video with limited budget. Chris Pine is an eccentric billionaire, sporting little more than a child’s tiger backpack, a jockstrap, and an enormous beard and wig.
Stretch thinks it’s so damn clever, and is totally self-satisfied with its over-written dialogue. It’s complacent with its “fucks” and temper-tantrum rantings. Stretch hollers, and Stretch pontificates. Think that’s harsh? In one moment, Pine waxes philosophical about being a firestarter to Stretch, while sitting in the back of the long black car. Then he starts a fire, setting the limo ablaze and conceptually reigniting Stretch’s life. Sweet metaphor, bro.