Zed (Eric Stoltz) has arrived in Paris to take up a new job there: not a legal job, however, as he is an expert safecracker and his old friend Eric (Jean-Hugues Anglade) has recruited him to help out on a bank raid he is planning. It will make them and the rest of the gang rich if they can get the gold out of the vault, and Zed does not see why anything could go wrong, so as he waits for Eric to arrive and finalise the details for tomorrow's raid, he hires a prostitute called Zoe (Julie Delpy) to pass the time, and is delighted to see how attractive she is...
But they are fated to meet again later on, though they do not part on the best of terms thanks to Zed doing very little when after their hour of passion and a clicking of personalities Eric shows up at the hotel room and throws her out. That was the tone, that nihilistic mood of nothing really mattering, not even when the plot contrived to have a moment of true love emerge from the chaos which ensues. The writer and director here was Roger Avary, who at the time was best known for collaborating with Quentin Tarantino on Reservoir Dogs and the upcoming Pulp Fiction; Tarantino served as co-producer here, and this was very much in the mould of the thrillers which spread like a rash after he made his mark.
So as with ninety-five percent of indie thrillers made in the nineties, it was heist time once again, and if you thought they were overdoing them in 1993, wait till you reached the end of the decade and the scene had been thoroughly Tarantino-ised, with everyone straining for cool, dropping pop culture references, and getting into gunfights in the hope that lightning would strike twice. Which it did - for Quentin, as everyone else following on was labouring in his long shadow, including Avary, as was seen by his efforts in Killing Zoe which largely disappeared in the morass of similar works rather than standing out to any great degree.
Although set in Paris, it was shot in L.A., and there's more of an American style to this than a European one, though the Europeans were just as susceptible to the lure of the Tarantino clone as those across the Atlantic, so before long there wasn't much difference. For the first half we get to know Zed, only to see there's not much to know as Stoltz failed to make an impact thanks to the movie being stolen from under his nose by the far showier performance of Anglade. He went all out to make an impression, seizing every opportunity to be as arrogant and sleazy as possible as he takes Zed on a journey into the night filled with drug use and, er, Dixieland jazz.
It's a wonder any of the gang were able to wake up in the morning never mind find their way to the bank, but for the second half they do manage it, guns blazing and terrorising the bank staff (porn star Ron Jeremy gets a shotgun blast to the chest - he never had any luck in the mainstream, did he?). That staff happens to include Zoe, who doesn't recognise Zed and Eric at first because they wear masks, yet as with just about every movie heist something goes wrong and more people start to die in violent ways. Needless to say, this was all too self-conscious to resonate with the emotions, so it was the excesses which provided entertainment, such as it was, a don't care pose which would prompt many a shrug when we don't much bother what happens to anybody in this. Avary tried to be stylish, but his rambling script which suffered from not doing enough with what ideas he had sabotaged anything but the pure, visceral charge of seeing actors pretend to be shot. Music by Tomandandy.
American writer and director, best known for his association with Quentin Tarantino and his contributions to Pulp Fiction's screenplay. Other films include the heist thriller Killing Zoe and the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation The Rules of Attraction. Avary has also made the little-seen Glitterati, a spin off from the latter starring Kip Pardue, with another Ellis adaptation, Glamorama, due until he was imprisoned for manslaughter.