This is not a great movie. Gary Oldman is a really fine actor, when he's not chewing the scenery as a cartoon bad guy (as he does in The Professional, for example), and that's why you should see this movie. He plays a human being in it. They saddled him with another cartoonish bad guy, but the gimmick is she's a chick, right? Yeah, she's like a chick and stuff. And she's like, really hot, dude.
Well, we all know a woman who looked like Abe Vigoda would never get work in the flicks, and it's been talked to death. Let it slide.
Oldman plays a crooked police detective in New York City. The mafia pays him off to lead them to witnesses under police protection. The mafia then kills them. He's married, and as compulsively unfaithful to his wife as he is to the police force. He buys her expensive jewellry to make up for it. The character is sleepy, confused, impulsive, and entirely out of control.
The clock always runs down on that stuff. Oldman's character gets entangled with Lena Olin playing an implausibly beautiful and psychotic Russian mafia hit-babe (I use the term "babe" with unkind intent and a painful awareness of advertising campaigns for watery lager). The police find out that he's on the take and they arrest him. He tries to kill Ms. Olin's character. The plot grows thick. She fakes her own death by severing one of her arms above the elbow with a hand-held electric circular saw and laying it alongside a similarly de-armed corpse, which she burns. Oldman escapes captivity and tries to find her. She finds him. They engage in what we will tactfully describe as "marital relations" in an abandoned factory somewhere in New Jersey, with her severed arm bandaged. Blah blah blah.
In the end, Oldman's friends on the police force allow him to get away. He tells his wife where he's going, and where to find his ill-gotten gains (buried in the garden) and flees to some unnamed Southwestern state, where he works in a diner on a dusty road out somewhere in the desert. And he waits for her to arrive. Through the magic of voiceovers and clever filmography, we are shown that he waits, and waits, and waits.
She finally wised up. Serves him right.
This is half film noir, two-thirds ludicrously overdrawn action movie, and about one-eleventh One-Armed Amazon Women Disposing of Corpses in the Meadowlands. Without Oldman it would be a waste of film.
Please allow me to draw your attention to one perfect moment where Oldman dances slowly with his wife in the moonlight, in their tiny back yard where the money is hidden. He dances with a gentle, sloppy grace and for that moment he loves her. It's the kind of thing movies could do if movies were better: In a few seconds you understand, and yearn for, everything that is good and worth keeping in his life, everything he never had the sense to give a damn about, everything that he throws away on thoughtless moments of greed and lust.
That moment in the moonlight is unforgettable. And then it's back to fiery explosions, car chases, and madly grinning death-centerfolds sawing their own arms off.