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The Kings of Yorktown

by on July 18, 2012
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“The Kings of Yorktown” is a heist movie in which the heist increasingly gets pushed to the side. A trio of con men who have known each other since childhood resolve to knock over the bank where one of them (barely) works as a security guard after he gets the other two jobs. They’ll seduce the lonely female tellers to get the combination and key to the lock, and it’ll be the ultimate inside job.

But over time, the vagabonds put down roots, form some connections and begin to think about what it would be like if they just continued working at the bank instead of burglarizing it.

This drama has a serviceable script, but it’s the performances that really give it momentum. I was astonished to learn that Collin Ware has only one other film credit to his name, and that’s a bit part. He’s dazzling as Richard, a socially awkward — and possibly even mentally challenged — man who longs to live in New York and date women, even though he’s never had a girlfriend.

Ware gives a textured, layered performance that is a lot more than nervous tics and funny foibles. He makes us feel Richard’s paranoid sense of social isolation, the constant fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. One scene, where he’s temporarily cast off his emotional burdens and let his soul soar, is pure joy to watch.

Also impressive is Matthew Rhode as Richard’s brother, Ed, who is the flashy yin to Richard’s pained yang. Tall, handsome and charming, with a voice that rumbles like an approaching train, Ed is the leader and front man of their operation. A clever opening bit involving a bar and a dog shows how they roll.

Their childhood chum is Henry (Ryan Andrew Balas), who’s half-sleeping through a stint guarding the Yorktown City Bank. It’s a pretty good cover, since no one would suspect someone so lazy could be part of a plan to steal $2 million.

The bank denizens are a quirky mix of characters. The manager rarely leaves her office. Carl (Mark Robert Ryan), the on-floor banker, spends his time playing video games or cracking lame jokes. Like Richard, Carl doesn’t really fit in, but the difference is he doesn’t know it.

Elizabeth (Diedre Herlihy) and Annette (Beth White) are the veteran tellers, and the marks. Ed quickly moves in on Elizabeth, who puts him off at first but soon lets him into her protective zone. She has an elderly father who seems to be dissipating from some medical issue or another but isn’t letting it get him down. Richard is attracted to Annette but isn’t about to put any moves on (assuming he has any) while her abusive boyfriend is around.

Writer/director Darren Marshall has a good head for an engaging story concept although the follow-through is a bit muddled at times. The film’s tempo and rhythms sometimes miss their marks, such as a blow-up between brothers that seems to come out of nowhere, and dissolves just as quickly.

I still recommend “The Kings of Yorktown,” if for no other reason than the wonderful acting.

3.5 Yaps