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'The Opportunists'

New films off the beaten path

Friday, October 13, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

If ever a case could be made for a sympathetic safecracker, this is it. Vic Kelly (Christopher Walken), a struggling auto mechanic in Queens with a backlog of bills and an ungrateful aunt in a pricey nursing home, initially wants nothing to do with a heist scheme.

'The Opportunists'

Rated R for language

2 1/2 stars


But once he and his aunt both are threatened with eviction, he caves. Vic joins forces with a previously unknown cousin from Ireland and two security guards. Their target is running a scam of his own, so it's not like they're stealing from the Little Sisters of the Poor, they rationalize.

"The Opportunists," written and directed by Myles Connell, is sort of the un-"GoodFellas." No flashy camera angles. No sensational soundtrack. No experienced wiseguys looking for a big score at the airport. It does spend time showing us what it takes to crack a safe the old-fashioned way -- by listening to the tumblers, rather than lighting a stick of dynamite.

Taking a break from his wide-eyed weirdos, Walken is an ex-convict who quietly acknowledges, "The regular citizen thing is not going too good." Vera Farmiga is the daughter he lost and regained; Cyndi Lauper is his girlfriend, a law-abiding bar owner; and Peter McDonald, the visiting Irishman.

There are a couple of holes in "Opportunists," but it's a nice little movie with a modest payoff. Turns out crime sometimes can pay, in unexpected ways.

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