EMPIRE I’ll make your baby cry!

dir. Reyes

Opens Fri Dec 6

Various Theaters

It may sound tasteless, but when I arrived at the Empire screening, the theater was teeming with teenage mothers and their wannabe gangbanger boyfriends. Despite my extreme movie theater claustrophobia, minimal seating forced me to sit next to such a couple, who had brought their sleeping baby to the theater. In the five minutes I sat there before the movie started, the father did his absolute annoying best to wake the child up. He smothered it with loud kisses and said things like "Why don't you wake up? Wake up." The mother became very frustrated. "You want her to cry during the movie?" she said. The father's response: "Shut the fuck up!"

Banter like this ensued throughout the movie, with the kid crying occasionally because of the dad's poking--and once because the dad started loudly rapping along to one of the songs in the film.

The discomfort and irritation I experienced in my seat was, I would say, equal to my annoyance with the film. Not only does it star John Leguizamo--whose hyperactivity is generally intolerable--it has the most taped-together plot I've ever encountered. On top of that, Empire has no idea what kind of film it is. Is it an action film, a gangster film, a romance, a tragedy, are we learning a lesson, are we hearing a story? I have no idea because it does all these things for about one minute each.

I will try and summarize quickly, although there's no point, because this movie is retarded: Leguizamo is a drug lord and has a district in New York, which is his turf. One of the other lords comes into his territory and a small war starts. Leguizamo gets shot, and because his girl is pregnant, wants out of the lifestyle. He meets a rich stockbroker and the guy says, "Hey, live in this free loft in Soho." Meanwhile, while trying to clean up his act, Leguizamo keeps getting calls from the drug boss to go sell more drugs. He can't escape his past but is getting fucked by his present. Obvious dramatic scenes occur. An idiotic final five minutes are only made worse by Leguizamo's narration and the story's pathetic attempt to find a conclusion.