Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013) - A missing wedding ring leads to a wild-goose chase involving meth addicts, skinheads and an Elvis impersonator.
Director: Wayne Kramer
Paul Walker … Raw Dog
Matt Dillon … Richard
Brendan Fraser … Ricky
Kevin Rankin … Randy
Vincent D’Onofrio … Alton
Norman Reedus … Stanley
Chi McBride … Johnson
Elijah Wood … Johnny Shaw
Ashlee Simpson … Theresa
Michael Cudlitz … Ben
Thomas Jane … The Man
Rachelle Lefevre … Sandy
Pawn Shop Chronicles tells us three stories that are all linked by a local pawn shop. The interwoven stories all begin in this shop run by Vincent D’Onofrio and Chi McBride, and then follow strange and violent paths to their conclusions.
The first story features Paul Walker and Kevin Rankin, two tweakers trying to rob their local meth cook played by Norman Reedus. This segment is good fun, nothing too serious and its nice to see Paul Walker doing something outside of his usual Fast & Furious world.
The next story follows Matt Dillon as a man who has just got married to the beautiful Rachelle Lefevre. They are driving to Orlando only to be led to the pawn shop by fate. Here he discovers evidence that his previous wife, who he assumed to be dead, might be alive and nearby. He leaves his new bride to go track down his ex, which leads to the most gruesome and violent section of the entire film. Elijah Wood shows once again after Sin City & Maniac that he is perfectly suited to playing a nasty character, and this story is easily the strongest offering for me. Very reminiscent to director Wayne Kramer’s 2006 movie Running Scared, which I happened to love.
The final story is the most surreal of the three, and easily the weakest, and it features Brendan Fraser as a bottom of the barrel Elvis impersonator. This one clings less to a story and hints to something a little more spiritual. This section seemed to drag on forever, without ever really going anywhere, and despite the nice (but insanely far-fetched) wrap around finale, really made the movie end on a bad note for me.
I’d love to see Kramer make another movie like Running Scared, mixed in with a little from the Elijah Wood story here, as Kramer clearly has an interest in the dark side of cinema. Blood, graphic torture and lots of nudity sum up the middle and best segment, and the two stories either side of that are tame and more comedic in theme.
As you can see from the cast list above, there are plenty of stars and recognisable faces on show here. Matt Dillon is by far the best on show, and some of the others are literally in blink and you’ll miss them cameos (or under masks, like Reedus). The cast was what initially made me search the film out, and whilst its a tricky one to recommend, there was enough in the middle segment to at least keep me entertained. I’ve seen this movie described as a poor Pulp Fiction knock-off, and whilst it’s maybe a fair assessment as they have similar themes, I would say Pawn Shop Chronicles is unique enough to warrant a viewing. Definitely not for everyone, but if you have a spare 90 minutes, and want to see something different and messed up, you could do a lot worse.
Fred Durst was originally set to direct.