Low-rent mob flick `Waiting’ to bomb

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
April 24, 1998

0.5 stars

There’s something to be said for delegating. Who knows whether “Waiting for the Man” would’ve been a better picture if John Covert –  the film’s writer, producer, director and co-star – hadn’t tackled such a heady project himself.

But it couldn’t have been much worse.

At its best, the independent movie – which was filmed in Chicago – shows the promise of a compelling story. At its worst, the mob drama drags on at a snail’s pace. At the screening I attended, three people fell asleep halfway through.

“Waiting for the Man” centers on the aftermath of a low-level Mafioso’s desire to  tell all. When word gets out that Frank Martel is relating his life story to an author, the mob has him taken out. Martel’s son Andrew (Covert) – once a candidate for the priesthood – finds himself in conflict with his childhood friend Lindsey (John  Harriman), when they – along with the FBI and the Mafia – try to recover the manuscript.

Dark and grainy, the film was made on a minuscule $73,000 budget, resulting in an amateurish veneer. The blood looks fake, and in the fight scenes, it’s obvious that the actors are pulling their punches. Waiting for the Man

However, that’s not the problem. Kevin Smith faced similar money woes with “Clerks,” but he still managed to come up with a well-made, highly watchable film by providing a fresh, funny script. Not so here. The characters in “Waiting for the Man” are so one-dimensional that you just don’t care what happens to them – least of all whiny  coke-fiend Andrew. Shoot them all, I say, and put a quick end to the audience’s misery.

There’s plenty of bloodshed and solemn brooding in the film, but none of the violence is quite so torturous as the stilted dialogue . . . or the impossibly slow, exaggerated death shots.

When Andrew interrogates the weaselly author, the writer inexplicably taunts, “Your daddy loves me. . . . Your daddy needs me more than he needs you.” He survives for far too long.

There are some unintentionally funny moments. As an FBI agent lies dying, a colleague pulls a nude pinup out of his wallet, as if the sight of a naked woman is going to sustain his life.

The most vital scene takes place in the cemetery. Well lit and beautifully framed, the brief, quiet moment says more with its quiet grace than the other 89 minutes of this incomplete film.

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