Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris McKenna, Kari Wuhrer, George Wendt, Vernon Wells, Lionel Mark Smith, Timm Sharp, Carissa Kosta, Ron Livingston, Daniel Baldwin, Carlie Westerman, Ian Patrick Williams, Shuko Akune
Written by: Charlie Higson, based on his novel
Directed by: Stuart Gordon
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and sexuality, nudity and language
Running Time: 102
Date: 06/13/2003

King of the Ants (2003)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Ant Kill

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In this non-horror movie directed by Stuart Gordon, a regular working-class man, Sean Crawley (Chris L. McKenna), is hired to spy on, and then kill, an accountant who is investigating dirty real estate developer Ray Mathews (Daniel Baldwin). He does, and Ray refuses to pay. But Sean claims to have kept a file full of evidence against Ray. So, A Fistful of Dollars-style, Ray and his men — including George Wendt as Duke Wayne — keep him hostage at Ray's ranch and beat him regularly for a long time. Sean finally escapes, and is taken in by beautiful Susan Gatley (Kari Wuhrer), who happens to be the widow of the man Sean killed. It all ends up with Sean heading back up to the ranch to get his revenge and brutally destroying his tormentors. Based on a novel by Charlie Higson, who adapted the screenplay, King of the Ants is a bit convoluted, but Gordon keeps it moving, never backing away from either high drama or intense gore, and it's surprisingly involving. (Although, who do criminals never pay hired killers in the movies?) Fans of Gordon's might have expected a movie about a giant ant, but the title is more of a metaphor.

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