Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, starring William H Macy, Isaiah Washington, Sam Rockwell, George Clooney, Luis Guzmán, Patricia Clarkson, Michael Jeter, Jennifer Esposito, John Buck Jr and Gabrielle Union.
Directing/writing siblings Anthony and Joe Russo break through from low-budget independent film-making to being produced by the powerhouse duo of Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney with 'Welcome to Collinwood'. A well-intentioned remake of fifties Italian comedy 'Big Deal on Madonna Street', it is set by the Russos in the run-down blue-collar neighbourhood of Collinwood, the "Beirut of Cleveland". It's a package which may look good on paper but Anthony and Joe Russo don't quite manage to pull the whole thing off.
After landing himself in the slammer for bungling a car theft, petty thief Cosimo (Guzman) is handed the job of a lifetime, something the locals call a 'Bellini', from a lifer. He can't pull it off unless he gets out so he tells his girl Rosalind (Clarkson) to find him a fall guy or 'Mullinski' to take the rap for $15,000. But the inhabitants of Collinwood are incapable of keeping their mouths shut and Rosalind, rather than getting her Mullinski, ends up with five inept criminals who all want in on Cosimo's Bellini.
Pero (Rockwell), a boxer who can't box, is the ringleader, convincing Cosimo to tell him the details of the heist before abandoning him in jail. The plan is simple - break into a pawnbroker from the apartment next store and steal the safe - but the execution, with a ridiculously ill-organised bunch of miscreants, is going to be difficult.
It's a veritable clambake of character actors, from Paul Thomas Anderson regular Luis Guzmán to William H Macy's furrow-browed baby-slung single father. The late Michal Jeter is a quavery, clownish vagrant and Isaiah Washington swans around in luxurious dressing gowns and cravats, a dandyish hyper-protective brother who is desperate to get his sister a life outside Collinwood.
Despite the high-calibre cast, the Russo brothers don't seem to know what to do with them and even the presence of Clooney as an intense tattooed, wheelchair-bound safecracker can't raise the ante. They may think that they're concentrating on character development but it's at the expense of plot and the characters are so cartoonishly drawn it's hard to give a damn about any of them. The safe is a McGuffin, something that works best in the hands of Alfred Hitchcock or even Quentin Tarantino (remember the suitcase in 'Pulp Fiction'?), but which here falls as hard as Pero does after one punch.
The comedy heist is an old idea, executed by the Russo brothers with some style but 'Welcome to Collinwood' never quite lives up to the sum of its parts.