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Review: 'Black Out' is an uninvolving dark crime comedy

There's an endemic problem in the world of dark crime comedies: filmmakers getting stuck in a self-reflexive loop, more interested in quoting the genre's movie-quoting movies than in telling a story. Between the inevitable nods to Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, fresh riffs are hard to come by. Dutch director Arne Toonen doesn't invent any in "Black Out," but he does corral the requisite collection of "colorful" characters, from the dumb to the deranged, in the desperate adventures of a reformed hood who gets dragged back into the criminal underbelly on the eve of his wedding.

Raymond Thiry is well cast as Jos, world-weary but trying, who finds himself in that annoying predicament of waking up beside a dead man, with no memory of the preceding night. Given his background and the screenplay's requirements, contacting the cops is not an option. A few visits, voluntary and not, to his former colleagues and rivals uncovers the crucial information that a whole bunch of cocaine is missing, and several parties are holding him responsible for replacing it. And yes, he's got 24 hours. 

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As Jos and his telltale purple Mustang crisscross the city, the flashback-laced action is well-paced, the rogues' gallery cleverly intertwined. Toonen and co-writer Melle Runderkamp serve up shots of grisly humor and moderately amusing conversational asides — including a memorable one on female criminal role models in movies. In terms of character and plot, not one element of the intended wild ride escapes self-consciousness or becomes the least bit involving.

"Black Out." No MPAA rating. In Dutch with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD. 

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