Hey gang, Valkor here. Before I dip back into reviewing short films, I thought I’d hit up a couple of full-features. The next film on the TOV chopping block, Top Coat Cash, is one part cool bits and one part “meh”. But it all equates to just an average film, though not a complete waste of time. Be wary of spoilers ahead.
“Top Coat Cash” centers on MMA fighter Johnny (David Tittone), who just lost a big fight in Vegas and is now skipping town to make a life for himself once more, back in his hometown of Kansas City. But he doesn’t make this move by choice; you see Johnny placed a bet on himself to win the Vegas bout with a bookie named Joe McCray (Steve Lopez). And since he lost, Johnny boy owes Joe a ton of money (one million bucks to be precise). Instead of paying Joe back, Johnny thought he could skip town, head back home, try to reconnect with his ex and child, meet up with an old flame, and also reconnect with his former trainer, in an attempt to build him up for the next big fight. And with those winnings, he thought he could use it to pay back Joe. Unfortunately for Johnny, Joe has followed him to town and is looking to collect his money.
Enter Johnny’s friend Jason (Jason Turner), who runs a nail salon with his father. But Jason is also into some shady side businesses; one, in particular, is robbing banks. After two of his crew nearly botched the last job (one wound up dead), Jason looks to bring Johnny into the fold. And since Johnny is in desperate need of cash, he takes the job without hesitation. The first job goes over smoothly, however, Joe learns of what Johnny is up to and he wants in on the action. On top of that, he doubles what Johnny owes him to the tune of two million dollars.
Finally, we have something of a love triangle between Jason, his wife Kristen (Katrina Ann Volonnino), and Jason’s crime partner Eric (Jeffrey Staab); it turns out that Kristen has been less than faithful as she's been sneaking around with Eric for some side action at any given opportunity. With plans of a big score, Eric and Kristen look to make an escape with all the money, leaving the others high and dry. Oh and before I forget, the FBI is also involved and they’re closing in on the crooks
Top Coat Cash has a lot to clean up; we have the issue with Johnny and him owing money to Joe, there’s also the issue with his kid being in an abusive family, there’s Joe who’s keeping tabs on everyone to make sure he gets what’s his, the infidelity between Jason and Kristen, and finally you got the issue with the feds. And you know what really sucks? We don’t get to see Johnny fight one more time. And I was honestly looking forward to it too.
While “Top Coat Cash” is a bit of a scattered mess with the story, it does a few things right that make it, at the very least, a passable viewing experience. The opening is great with both the MMA fight running parallel with the bank robbery. And from there it coasts along just fine. It’s only when other storylines are introduced, does it get messy, but it’s not entirely difficult to keep track of things. I get that the film is trying to connect all these dots, but it should have stuck to the main story with the bank robberies and the fights, which would have been just fine. But for every dull or head scratching moment, there’s a handful that is worth seeing. The acting is only so-so, and you’re not gonna find any clear winners here. For me, I can forgive the acting if the story is at least somewhat decent. And that’s exactly what you get here. So, if you’re looking for a no-brainer of a film, then “Top Coat Cash” is the one!
First off, there’s just way too much going on; for instance, the whole infidelity thing could have been scrapped altogether because it doesn’t add anything and the entire scenario is just… annoying. Then you have Jason and Eric’s real estate scheme, which is again, unnecessary. The two scheming about it is one thing, but they actually go to check out a house! Why? Next is Johnny, his ex-wife, and his kid; towards the end of the film we see the kid tied and drugged up and I’m not even sure why. The thing is, Johnny’s new girlfriend goes in to get him at gunpoint no less. All of that, with the kid, and the abuse, and just everything with that family is completely unnecessary, or it could have been toned down so we don’t have to deal with the abuse and girlfriend kidnapping. In the end, it almost feels like the team behind this film walked in with a clear and concise plan of what they wanted to shoot, but started adding stuff along the filming process. This one should have been cleaned up heavily before going into production. Oh and this is more of a nitpick if anything, but this film has the unsteadiest cam I have ever seen. It’s as if someone held the camera for nearly the entire shoot. Tripods? No?
You can check out “Top Coat Cash” through digital distribution such as Google play and Amazon Instant. And I have to say, I wasn’t entirely bored with the film, but it’s not winning any awards with me. So, if you’re looking for a time killer that’s watchable, then this is the one. And out of TOV 5 stars, I’m gonna give “Top Coat Cash” a 2.5. I didn’t hate it, but it could have been better. In the end, it was just… OK.