Good Time doesn’t have a misleading title. With its adrenaline rush pacing, terrific performances and unpredictable script, this is a film that doesn’t stop surprising or entertaining.
Brothers Josh and Benny Safdie (Heaven Knows What) direct a film that manages to easily switch from being a suspenseful crime thriller one minute to a comedy the next and a daring chase caper without missing a step. Part of what makes Good Time so memorable is how difficult it is to label it any particular genre.
Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson, The Twilight Saga) is a loser. He’s that guy who’s always talking about how his next great plan is going to be the big one that takes him to the top. Connie might be going nowhere fast but his true talent is using people. He’s a smooth talker who can weasel his way out of any situation even if it lands him in an even stickier position.
For his latest scheme, Connie’s convinced his mentally ill brother, Nick (Benny Safdie), to tag along on a bank heist. There’s some not so subtle racism in Connie’s decision to disguise himself as a black man robbing a bank. Connie apparently has never watched any movies or TV shows with bank robberies and the plan goes haywire. With Nick imprisoned, Connie has to figure out a way to drum up bail money to keep him safe.
In a lot of ways, Good Time gave me a similar feel to watching Nerve, the 2016 neon-coated thriller starring Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. Like Nerve, Good Time rarely lets up and feels like a hard charging, unrelenting nighttime adventure accompanied by a mesmerizing score. Beyond the captivating score, there’s an overall cool vibe with gorgeous lighting provided by Sean Price Williams.
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Pattinson is a legit surprise. It’s not that he’s sat home and collected Twilight residual checks, but his performance suggests a star fully capable and ready to seize the moment. In Connie, Pattinson showcases an unrealized sense of desperation, ingenuity, charisma and intensity. This could be the role that completely changes everyone’s perceptions about what Pattinson can and cannot do on the big screen.
He’s the driving force of the film, but he’s got company with the strong performances. Taliah Lennice Webster gives an authentic flavor to a 16-year-old teenager Connie encounters. Jennifer Jason Leigh makes the most of a limited role as Connie’s emotionally fragile girlfriend; Barkhad Abdi plays a surprisingly competent security guard and Buddy Duress nearly steals the film’s second half as a ex con having a very bad day.
The script, co-written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, constantly goes against expectations. It manages to be funny without ever getting too silly that the switch to heavy drama feels jarring. There’s no limit to the depths Connie will sink to secure Nick’s bail money. Since he’s such a lousy person, Connie’s misfortunes have a comedic slant as it’s easy to laugh at his screw-ups. Connie still manages to earn a degree of sympathy thanks to Pattinson making him so persistence.
The Safdies utilize a number of creative and fresh camera perspectives. One chase scene in particular is mostly shot from a top down angle, which adds to the futility of Connie’s efforts.
Good Time is a film that delivers as promised and provides Pattinson a launching pad for more headlining roles with an attention-demanding performance.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: A24