Friends of Jack Kairo

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


This odd Sam Spade-style film noir spoof is brilliantly acted, but in parodying the dense, convoluted plots of the genre, falls headfirst into the same trap itself.

Simon Toal is the hard-bitten private dick Jack Kairo ­ who makes quite an entrance, crawling out of an isolated suitcase. And it's not long before he's trenchcoat-deep in femmes fatales, violent goons and double-crosses on the trail of a dead man's mysterious artefact.

The wry one-liners and sinister overtones of this type of world-weary detective film make it an easy target for pastiche, and although Toal does it with conviction there's an overwhelming sense you've seen it all before.

And the surreal touches that do make it different tend to be the ones that trip it up, such as the random idea of a Star Wars Wookie as a police sidekick. Most confusing, though, is the awkward attempt to link Kairo's quest to the weapons of mass destruction shambles, with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Hans Blix all appearing as warped, menacing caricatures as themselves.

Toal is a versatile actor, single-handedly acting out all the conspiracists and bit-part players from the youthful seductress to the sleazy nightclub singe, with vigour and style. In re-creating the absorbing twilight world of the Maltese Falcon with nothing more than his talent, he succeeds expertly.

But once he's drawn us in, he seems determined to lose us with labyrinthine plots, weighty exposition and just too many repetitive, overly weird touches.

Some of the ideas, such as the brilliantly realised informant who just happens to be a flea, work excellently, but it's the very act of stringing a few good sketches together into one parody that makes for an overcomplicated experience.

Steve Bennett


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Published: 1 Jan 2006


Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2006

Friends of Jack Kairo


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