One For The Money Review

Film Still
  • One For The Money film still


This bounty hunter action comedy is as bland and flavourless as movies come.

It’s rare to see a movie where the primary motivation of the film's producers is spelled out so clearly in its title. Perhaps they wish to subliminally alert you of their desire to knock out a literary blockbuster franchise: the bestselling book from which One for the Money is adapted has no fewer than 17 sequels. Yet, their intention has left little room for considerations like quality, invention, logic and creativity.

One for the Money introduces us to Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl), the plucky Italian-American heroine of Janet Evanovich's hugely successful series of crime novels set in New Jersey; a locale which remains a geographical punchline in the US that's roughly analogous to, say, Essex. Down on her luck and fired from her job at a department store, Plum decides, on a whim (read: with no training or qualifications), to become a bounty hunter for her cousin's bail bond agency.

For her very first assignment she’s placed on the tail of a fugitive cop named Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), a local heartbreaker whom Plum has never forgiven for sleeping with, then ignoring her. Determined to bring him to justice, Plum soon finds out there's, of course, more to Morelli's case than meets the eye.

It’s a caper, then, and a clumsily constructed one to boot. Maybe Evanovich's books delve more deeply into the motivation behind Plum's improbable career change, but the film gives us little more than the flimsy excuse in the title. And whatever her financial troubles are, they remain (mostly) off screen. In fact, the filmmakers seem uninterested in showing any of Plum's backstory at all.

An ex-husband is obliquely referred to, then forgotten. A friend she is repeatedly seen chatting to on the phone isn't even given a name, let alone a cursory explanation of who she is. The film is almost pathologically lazy about simple things like exposition and character development, as if the creators assume we’ll already know it all from having read the books.

The goal is clearly a sexy, funny thriller in the Out of Sight mould. What we end up with is a washed-out facsimile of that film, like a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. The dialogue is forgettable. The ever-present jazz soundtrack is pure made-for-TV filler. The dumpy suburban locations make it look cheap and ugly. Worst of all is Heigl herself.

The one thing that might have redeemed One for the Money is a brassy performance from a committed leading lady. But Heigl is unable to invest her character with anything beyond doe-eyed blankness. Most of the time, she appears bored out of her mind. See this film and you’ll feel her pain.

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