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The Mighty Quinn

Posted by martinteller on April 21, 2013

On a Jamaican island, chief of police Xavier Quinn (Denzel Washington) has a murder on his hands.  The prime suspect is his childhood friend, a ne’er-do-well named Maubee (Robert Townsend).  But Quinn isn’t buying it, and the plot is thick with a suspicious couple (James Fox and Mimi Rogers), a voodoo witch (Esther Rolle), a visiting American (M. Emmet Walsh), and a suitcase full of $10,000 bills.

I’ve been wanting to see more with Washington, but my gaps from his filmography aren’t especially promising.  This seemed like the safest bet.  It has the structure of a noir, with a detective investigating a murder that goes deeper than he imagined, a convoluted plot, seductive women, mysterious strangers, and his job causing troubles at home.  But the tone isn’t really dark enough to be considered a serious neo-noir.  The tropical setting and dashes of humor lighten the mood, and it’s more a fun thriller romp than an exploration of man’s dark nature.

Washington is charming as ever, although he can’t seem to decide how Jamaican Quinn’s accent should be (when he’s drunk, it’s very very Jamaican indeed).  It’s certainly not a performance on the caliber of Malcolm X or even Inside Man, but he’s always a compelling presence.  I enjoy Townsend and Rolle as well, though their turns here are nothing special.  Sheryl Lee Ralph is quite nice as Quinn’s wife.  The rest of the cast ranges from mildly likable to somewhat forgettable.  The soundtrack is good enough reggae… it’ll never compete with The Harder They Come, but it’s okay.  Scoring by Anne Dudley (of The Art of Noise) is adequate as well.

Basically, it’s a decent movie.  It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, just an entertaining mystery thriller with a Jamaican flavor (thankfully no one says “bumbaclot”, a term that makes me cringe).  If you like classic, twisty detective stories in the Marlowe vein, it should satisfy.  Rating: Good (73)


4 Responses to “The Mighty Quinn”

  1. nancy said

    Thank you – I will not rent this one. I think this sounds like a typical Denzel “type” – the angry cop, the drunk cop, the cop on the run.

  2. JamDenTel said

    A nice little entertainment, this one. The late Ebert’s rave about it got me interested, and while I don’t think it’s THAT great, it was quite enjoyable. I find it interesting that the director never really did anything else of note.

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