The Salton Sea (2002)

Director: DJ Caruso
Starring: Val Kilmer, Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Goldberg, Lusi Guzman, Doug Hutchison, Peter Sarsfaard, DB Wong, R Lee Ermey, Meat Loaf, Danny Trejo. USA. 1h 43m

Coming from the early 2000’s there’s still a 1990s fever dream running through DJ Caruso drug fueled action thriller, starring Val Kilmer as a lone wolf Danny Parker (AKA Tom Van Allen) who spends his days infiltrating a group of colourful druggies while trying to hatch an elaborate revenge plan against those who wronged him.

Kilmer was still at that stage of his career where he could play a fairly convincing addict and rouge undercover cop, and rouge is a key word here, he doesn’t seem to be employed as an officer, anymore, and much like a rogue samurai, he’s somewhat meticulous and dedicated to his end goal. The lively bunch of addicts are similar to the cast of Spun (2002) and they have high hopes to pull off heists to feed their habits but they are more dangerous to themselves. The world is their oyster and they are just here to have fun.

If you’re looking for the truth, you’ve come to the wrong place.

The bad guy Holland Dale “Pooh-Bear” Monty a deformed psychopath who hides out in the desert, is played by Vincent D’onofrio and is probably one of the least talked about but most memorable villains of the 2000’s. Spending his days setting up deals and having fun re creating the Kennedy assassination with pigeons (him being the sniper) he’s as much of a head case as the other druggies but this man is switched on, highly psychotic and disgracefully unhinged. Having no nose, poised a task for the CGI team but D’onofrio did an excellent and dedicated job at acting noseless for the entire filming of this boisterous project.

“What is this? Am I Dead? Linoleum? this must be hell. Oh no, what a cliche”

At times Danny removes his cool kid on ecstasy vibe and returns to his apartment as the average joe blow, rifles through pictures of his past and plays the trumpet, A broken man for sure but one who is slowly slipping down the rabbit hole, making really strong bonds with his new circle of friends, namely Jimmy the Finn (Sarsgaard) the breakthrough is when he gets an invite to finally meet Pooh Bear at his secret location, but while he can fool the crack house friends on the corner, can he really pass by the keen eye and sensitive nose of Pooh?

Trainspotting meets Pulp Fiction, the vibrant techno-color of drugs is (mis)labelled as just a bit of harmless fun, but the uglier underbody of the dealers and evil side of humanity is probed through the ultimate bad guy,


Rating: 7/10

Related: Spun (2002) , Trainspotting (1996),
Lists: Drug Flicks Spotlight: Val Kilmer, Vincent D’Onofrio


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