review for Albino Alligator on AllMovie

Albino Alligator (1996)
by Derek Armstrong review

Beyond reproach in his choices as an actor, Kevin Spacey finally missteps in his first outing as director, adding another to the stream of interchangeable talky crime dramas that Quentin Tarantino is credited with (and sometimes blamed for) reviving. When yet another band of small-time crooks hole themselves up in an after-hours dive, it gives Spacey too much time and too little space for a character study of essentially uninteresting characters. He understandably attracts quite an able cast, as actors usually clamber for the opportunity to immerse themselves in a dialogue-heavy script that allows them to emote under the dire circumstances of the scenario. But Christian Forte's screenplay is too fascinated with heightening the tension level at every turn to give the characters much complexity. His study of the friction between the crooks occasionally hits the mark, especially with the complicating fact that one of them is injured, but he quickly reverts to the more familiar territory of cat-and-mouse games between cops and robbers, kidnappers and captives. The meaning of the title, a bit of folklore hooey that doesn't enlighten the film's themes, gets obtrusively explained away by William Fichtner's unbalanced hick, the inappropriately named Law. "Let's albo gator him," suggests Law. Miramax should have albo gatored this movie, and given Spacey something worthier of his undeniably smart instincts.