Top Coat Cash is crime film that takes on the Hollywood trope of tough guys, and features a cast of up and coming talent. For transparency, I am stating right here that I was an actor in the film. So my review will be from the point of view of an actor and filmmaker, not the jaded critic who has seen too many films. (Potential spoilers below)
David Tittone’s second directorial effort is the story of a mixed martial arts fighter with a criminal record whose return home to Kansas City is plagued with former partners (and current bank robbers), shady businessmen and his drug abusing wife, who has custody of their son. Casting himself in the main role was a commitment to the film that some people stay away from. After an intense casting process and recasting of key roles, the movie was filmed intermittenly over a couple years.
The love and care the film was handled with is evident. But being in the film, I can tell you there is a lot of material that didn’t make the cut. That is not to say it is needed, but I found myself wondering what happened to a few sequences. It is very difficult to make a feature film with banks, police advisory, and waving guns around in daylight. But Tittone and his team pulled it off.
The film starts properly with Guy Ritchie-esque title sequence in Las Vegas. When the fighter goes down, his trouble is only beginning. Rekindling a romance with a beautiful waitress, Johnny finds himself in a thrill one moment, while receiving a beating for his Vegas business gone awry, the next.
The film has a lot going for it, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think some things could have been handled differently. My main comment for the film would be that Johnny Thompson is the kind of the boyhood fantasy that many boys have. He can fight, he can seduce a beautiful woman, and he can shoot and avoid getting caught in some dangerous situations. While this is a film, and we are required to suspend our disbelief, I just don’t understand why he would take some of the beatings that he takes without getting a little more Patrick Swayze Roadhouse mean. He’s a fighter, and he is training, but the training seems to be for nothing, if he is pummeled. Perhaps this is a plot technique to garner sympathy from the audience, but it seemed disingenuous to me.
Attending the red carpet premiere in Los Angeles with my beautiful date was was surreal. It was good to see my cast mates I hadn’t seen since the film wrapped. Seeing the film in Los Angeles rounded out my experience. A script is written, decisions are made, and a film is produced. It doesn’t always hit people the same way. The production, and long hours are part of the journey as an actor. My journey ended as the credits rolled, but the film’s journey is just beginning.
The film is a worthy entry into the independent film world. There are performances that elevate the material to new heights. While Michael Mann’s Heat (a logical influence) had Deniro and Pacino, and mid 90’s Los Angeles as the setting, this film has a Midwestern charm to it’s proceedings. The film pulls off some daring shots in real locations. When it’s good, it’s great! See it on a big screen with good sound and enjoy.