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Scarecrow on Seattle: GET CARTER

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.






Get Carter (2000)
Remaking 1971's excellent Michael Caine film Get Carter seems to be an irresistible filmmaking urge. They did a pretty good job with a solid blaxploitation version called Hit Man that starred Bernie Casey and the great Pam Grier but that didn't stop Hollywood from attempting to spruce it up as a 21st century Sylvester Stallone vehicle. Stallone stars as Jack Carter, a Las Vegas mob enforcer who travels to Seattle for his brother's funeral. It doesn't take him long to call "shenanigans" and embark on a quest to avenge his brother's death. The cast is full of interesting actors like Miranda Richardson, Mickey Rourke, Alan Cumming, and even Michael Caine himself. The film isn't completely awful but it does feature an annoying flashy editing style, a new "improved" ending and a muddled plot. But Get Carter's biggest crime is regularly presenting parts of Vancouver as being part of Seattle--sometimes within the same car chase! The filmmakers insert lots of Seattle skyline shots and ensures all the cars have Washington plates. There are even some small touches like a Sonics (R.I.P.) bumper sticker on Sly's vintage Mustang. Still, if you've spent much time in Vancouver and/or Seattle it is blatant what was shot where. Most obvious to me was the hotel Carter stays at (unmistakably located on Vancouver's Hornby Street), Stallone walks past some familiar Vancouver establishments like the Elbow Room and he meets up with Rachel Leigh Cook at The Ovaltine Café. The city seen out of Cumming's office window is unequivocally Vancouver and not Seattle. The most disorientating moments are the film's car chases. Not only are they edited in the modern ADD/MTV style they also jump around to various locations with a complete disregard for geographic realities. One chase features a Christmas tree lot that supposedly exists right in the middle of downtown Seattle near 2nd Avenue, a Wilcox milk truck, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Harbor Island, and Vancouver's Granville Street Bridge. Another chase is even more confusing. I think it starts in Vancouver's Chinatown, continues in Seattle's International District, then suddenly the cars are barreling down 6th Avenue in Belltown with the Space Needle in the background, they cut over I-5 on the Yesler Way Bridge, zip around under the Viaduct (look quickly for the Kingdome which had been demolished by the time Get Carter hit the cinemas), and then they are under the Granville Street Bridge again. By far the coolest part of this chase and, perhaps, the film's highlight is when the bad guy's car somehow becomes airborne and ends up wedged sideways in the stairway by Pioneer Square's Triangle Pub. Get Carter is not the first time Sylvester Stallone played a hit man in Seattle. Bonus points for the reader who can name that other film where Sly played an Assassin (hint hint) in the Jet City.
--Spenser Hoyt


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