Albino Alligator - * * 1/2*

Kevin Spacey makes his directoral debut with this moody hostage drama. After a botched robbery, three crooks (Matt Dillon, Gary Sinise, and William Fichtner) hide out in a small underground New Orleans bar. Things get tense when the cops arrive (led by ATF agent Joe Mantegna), and the trio are forced to take the bar’s patrons (including M. Emmett Walsh, Faye Dunaway, John Spencer, Skeet Ulrich and Viggo Mortensen) hostage. Kevin Spacey manages to set an appropriately gloomy tone, with plenty of claustrophobic shots. However, although the film excels in style, it is a bit shallow on substance. Character motivation is rather shallow and simplistic throughout, and a lot of fine talent is wasted (particularly Spencer and Mantegna). Most of these detractions can be traced back to the script by Christian Forte, who delivers an interesting setup, but doesn’t follow through. And Kevin Spacey, while an excellent actor, has yet to master the directoral nuances that might have overridden Albino Alligator’s flaws, although as a first outing, it shows some promise. His freshman effort would probably be better worth a video rental than a feature showing.

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