After botching a job for the most ruthless crime boss in NYC, two women must play a game of modified Russian Roulette to survive in Pat Bradley’s short crime thriller Double Zero.
Most crime movies are built on a strong male lead and a team of mostly male antiheroes, who typically seek a kind of justified vengeance. Usually against a vicious crime boss who also happens to be male. Double Zero is not like most crime movies because, for starters, it’s a female-led thriller that, thanks to a script also written by Pat Bradley, allows the girls to act just as naughtily as the boys.
Opening with a brief-but-beautiful bird’s eye view of New York City, we meet two women, Olivia and Diana, discussing a recent job they have botched on a rooftop. This gives our two leads plenty of time to smoke, swear, and riff on each other’s personalities. We get a lot of exposition during this opening scene, and it’s delivered with venom by Caroline Anderson’s Olivia and Vivian Belosky’s Diana. They act tough and speak tough, but deep down we can tell that neither of them is comfortable with the position they find themselves in. There is a lovely sense of fear and nervousness bubbling in the subtext of their words. The rest of the scenes are mainly an interrogation where we meet the vicious crime boss Alvara and her henchman who begin to torture Olivia and Diane in order to find out the truth about what happened during the heist and why it went so drastically wrong. Alvara is played by Jamie Ragusa, and we are treated to another strong female performance in a traditionally male role.
Although most of its 18-minute runtime feels like a flashy exercise and there are some great technical elements to Double Zero which, despite its flaws, is a very well-made film. The editing by Brian Allen is great because a film with so many characters in such a small environment requires a decent editor to keep it moving and Allen manages to find the perfect pace with his cuts and transitions. Also, a big plus is Steve Zink’s music which permeates throughout the entire film yet remains quite subtle and doesn’t distract. This is especially true in the way that Bradley uses it as he holds it back for a long time and then allows it to bubble up slowly as the ending gets closer; this turns out to be a clever direction and it manages to enhance the tension of the overall experience.
The movie is not perfect, with its most obvious error being the characters not reacting to the violence or situations in a way that any real person would; Olivia, for example, comes across as a little too cool for school, but Anderson manages to inject some personality into her. The short also provides simple and routine reaction shots to incidents and then quickly moves on which doesn’t give an audience much time to take in the plot points and implications of the story beats.
Double Zero is an enjoyable crime thriller that works on two levels, mainly as a piece of pulp entertainment, but also as a commentary on how men aren’t the only people at risk of never getting what they are owed unless they just go ahead and take it.