Posted by: Gregg | September 20, 2006

“Smith” review, or, Ray Liotta Is Looking Sort of Scary These Days.

I had heard decent things about the new CBS drama, Smith, about a family man who leads a double life as a high-stakes thief. I caught the premiere last night with low expectations but I was curious to see if it would deliver the goods. It certainly has a great cast to back it up: Ray Liotta as the leader of the crew, Amy Smart as a con artist and master of disguises, Simon Baker and Jonny Lee Miller as triggermen with funny accents, and the always-fabulous Virginia Madsen as Smith’s wife who isn’t supposed to know about her husband’s double life, but really does know, without him knowing that she knows.  

The show is beautifully shot and uses the familiar flashback sequence to tell the story -we open on a masterfully prepared robbery of an art gallery that soon begins to fall apart, and at the climax of the heist we flash back to how the team was assembled and the backstory behind the whole thing. (The art gallery is the library from “Seven,” incidentally, in the scene where Morgan Freeman met the security guards who were playing poker.)

The problem was that there were absolutely no characters – besides Madsen – who are even remotely likeable. This is driven home with a scene where Madsen’s character is subtly sexually harassed by her dentist boss for no other reason but to make us feel even more sympathy for her. The Amy Smart character is a cold manipulator who has a history with Jonny Lee Miller; he holds her responsible for his recent stint in prison, but then turns around and joins the mile-high club with her on the plane ride back from the heist. We first meet Simon Baker while he’s cheerfully assassinating two people on a secluded Hawaii beach. This is a group of Really Bad People who have few, if any, redeeming qualities.

Also, anybody with common sense will notice laughable holes in the plot. There’s actually a scene where Smith and the triggermen repeatedly pace through the museum, talking aloud about plans for the heist, as if a museum with million-dollar peices of art wouldn’t have security guards to overhear them or security cameras to tape them.

Oh, and Ray Liotta has not aged well. No wonder he wears that white mask in the previews – viewers are not going to want to watch his face.

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