Catch 44 uses the veteran actor Forest Whitaker to excellent effect, giving him the chance to get his teeth into a nice piece of multiple personality performance as a gun toting gangster trying to get away with that hardy movie perennial – The last big score. Blinded by love, possibly hugely mentally ill and certainly off the chain in the itchy trigger finger department, his portrayal of Ronny – a psychopathic chunk of right hand muscle whose finally had enough of being taken for granted – is moving and frightening in equal measure. He swings from the kind of absent minded, humble nice guy he does so well to cop killing lunatic in moments. It’s exhilarating to watch.
Whitaker has appeared in some unique roles that set him apart from the usual Hollywood set. Roles that give clues to how he occupies his character in Catch 44 – Fans of Quasi-religious Sci-Fi vanity projects will be saddened to see that his pivotal role in Battlefield Earth has been sadly overlooked…
Ghost Dog: War of The Samurai
Maximum respect to Forest for taking on this unique Wu-Tang soundtracked 90s Indie-crime classic that melds the ancient ways of the Samurai – as filtered through the classic cinema of Japan – to the low rent mob movie to create an out of time, slightly off reality flick in which Public Enemy quoting Mafia guys want to take out Whitaker’s Samurai aping hitman. Forest plays a man out of step with the world… Dangerous but sensitive. It’s a precursor to Ronny in some ways, he’s a man who’ll kill without a second thought but is driven by a selfless albeit manic love to put himself in harm’s way.
A Rage In Harlem
This offbeat crime movie set in 50s Harlem is a very black comedy that for the most part works. A musical cameo by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins certainly helps to elevate it. What’s of interest here is Whitaker’s role as a pudgy momma’s boy. He has the whole stumbling speech, nervous wiping of the forehead with a handkerchief, self-deprecation act down pat. When we first meet him in Catch 44, he uses this persona to devastating effect, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out how…
The Last King Of Scotland
Is there a better example of Whitaker’s ability to play the full spectrum of mental horror than the maniacally evil, egocentric and infamous despot Idi Amin? Forest’s multi-award winning performance is a textbook example of the way the actor can occupy someone whose entire make up and modus operandi is completely at odds with conventional humanity. In Catch 44 we see the actor flip-flopping effortlessly between emotional states without once losing site of his character. In lesser hands it might have been a scenery chewing disaster.