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Circus

3.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Bruno, a sadistic criminal, wants clever con man Leo out of the way. Leo and his equally clever wife, Lily, are up to something. So too is Julius: he hires Leo to kill Gloria, Julius's wife. Leo doesit, but then Julius shows up with the murder on tape, saying Gloria isn't his wife - it's blackmail. Leo's bookie, Troy, is also closing in, wanting to be paid. Bruno and Lily as well as Bruno and Julius have their own scams running, and Leo is their target. Maybe Leo can get Troy off his back, avoid Moose (Bruno's huge enforcer), send Gloria's corpse out of England, turn the tables on Bruno's murderous brother Caspar, and outfox Lily. Or is Lily his fox? It's a three-ring circus.

Amazon.com

Circus is an appropriate title for this busy British three-ring caper film. John Hannah is the amiable ringmaster, a gambling junkie and "the smartest man I know" according to all his acquaintances. Which doesn't quite explain why everyone targets him as a patsy in their elaborate scams and schemes. There are plots aplenty here: frumpy accountant Peter Stormare hires Hannah to murder his wife and then videotapes the deed for collateral in a blackmail scheme. Upwardly mobile thug Brian Conley pressures Hannah to run his casino while plotting his demise. Sexy Famke Janssen puts on her slinky best femme fatale pose as Hannah's girlfriend with a questionable past, playing the players against one another. That past catches up with her when Fred Ward, an old partner in crime she abandoned holding the bag years back, arrives for payback. Almost too clever for its own good, Circus is an ingeniously engineered mercenary free-for-all thick with secret alliances, double-crosses, hidden identities, and a plot that twists into a new direction every five minutes. What it misses in all the self-conscious plotting is a human equation. Hannah's grinning, easygoing attitude and Janssen's sultry air of mystery help fill out the characters, but the only real satisfaction coming at the end of this crack caper is its sheer logistic perfection. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes
  • Making-of featurette
  • Talent files
  • Production photos

Product Details

  • Actors: John Hannah, Eddie Izzard, Famke Janssen, Tom Tiny Lister Jr., Peter Stormare
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Polish, Thai
  • Dubbed: Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056WQY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,456 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Circus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
If the like a movie with Twists and Treachery, Deception and Double Crosses, then "Circus" should be Right up your Alley.
John Hannah and Famke Janssen star as a Husband and Wife in Debt up to their Criminal Eyeballs. Their plans to become Debt Free, Decent Citizens are Marred by a Bunch of Shady Characters, including Peter Stormare as a Computer Hacker / Blackmailer, Fred Ward as a Bank Robber / Hit man, Brian Conley as a Casino Owner / Mob Boss, Tiny Lister Jr as a Henchman and Eddie Izzard as a Loanshark.
The Performances are Great all round, not One Actor Hogs the Screen or Bogs its down, but no one really Stands out neither. If I had to pick one performance that I liked best, I'd have to choose between Izzard and Conley. They both play their Tough guy Thug roles to a Tea. (excuse the lame "tea" pun)
"Circus" has been promoted as another "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" Rip-off, but that is Misleading. It rarely shoots for Comedy, but when it Does, it hits the mark. It is Darker, more Mature, more Americanised and it has a more "Film Noir" feel.
Some may feel that the film gets Buried under a pile of Illogical Twists, and Dim-Witted Double crosses. Many Critics have said that, but I disagree. If you get into the story, and keep track of whose who, you'll most likely Enjoy yourself.
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Format: DVD
Con man Leo Garfield can't seem to get a break in life. Seems like everyone in the world is after him to settle a score in the movie "Circus," one of the best capers I've ever seen in my life. There's so much going on at one time that confusion will set in, but don't give up on it, because everything comes together in the end of the film. The mysteries and attention-grabbers have a nice way of keeping our interest, while the husband-and-wife combo do more than just set up the plot twists. 
To try and sum up the plot of the film would require a second viewing directly after the first, as well as reveal some of the shockers that come along with the story. But here's a simple taste: Leo and Lily are connected to just about every shady character known to man. There's Bruno, who seems to be in charge of everything that goes on, but may not be as in control as he thinks. There's Caspar, who tries everything he can think of to hold his enemies under his power. 
Then there are the pawns in the mystery game: there's Elmo, whose past involvement with Lily brings him into town with a score to settle. We have Moose, whose loyalty to the person in charge is as shifty as a summer breeze. And then we have Julius, who ends up playing on the most important roles in connection with the main characters. 
The first thing about this movie that must be made clear is that nothing is what it seems until the end. Trying to solve the mystery will get you nowhere, because once you think you have it, a scene will reveal one person's interaction with another character that completely tosses your theories and suspicions out the window. At times, it weaves such an intricate web...that you can't help but think that it can't possibly have a plausible outcome. 
But you're wrong.
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Format: DVD
Fairly soggy with enjoyable aspects. Has the feel of an initial effort by a smart and creative director who hasn't yet gotten his storytelling chops honed. Feels like the director loves con films enough to savor the details saying to his viewer "but I don't have to tell you how that works..." without quite having the panache to pull off the genre. John Hannah - charming but poorly directed. Famke Janssen is implausibly beautiful and not charasmatic enough to be paired believably with Hannah. Brian Conley as mob boss cliche stinks up the screen and Eddy Izzard is wasted in a ill-concieved bit part but still burns up the celluloid.
To fix this movie: Break the screen into four panes ala the DVD cover. Put Eddy izzard in one and let him do his act. Put John Hannah in a second and show him smoking a cigarette. Put Famke Janssen in a third alternately laughing fetchingly at Izzard and batting her eyes at Hannah. In the fourth panel run The Sting...
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By A Customer on April 3, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
After reading many poor reviews, I wasn't expecting much of this film. I was pleasantly surprised by "Circus", however, though in all essence, it's a toned down Tarantino wannabe with a British accent. "Circus" tries to be the ever-popular hip gangster crime film that was popular a while back, but it falls short a bit. The problem seems to be with the incredibly complex storyline. There is a new twist in the plot nearly every scene, so much that it becomes anticipated after a while. The purpose of maintaining suspense through this technique is lost somewhere, and the "unexpected" surprise angles seem to be nothing short of a gimmick. Despite this, I found "Circus" to be somewhat enjoyable; it held my interest through its entirety. Keep an eye out for Eddie Izzard and John Hannah.
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Format: DVD
Quite a good British gangster crime film, set in seedy Brighton Beach -- which, as I understand it, is kind of like the old Atlantic City, before the casinos came and ruined that place. (Bring back the charm of the old A.C.) Complex, twisty plot -- yes. Many critics of this film complain of the too-complex plot twists. But, the myriad of plot twists IS the point of the film. That's why it's called "Circus", as in three-ring-circus. There's stuff going on simultaneously in all 3 rings, just as there is plot stuff going on simultaneously among all the gangsters to create double-, triple-, quadruple-crosses.

I particularly liked Peter Stormare as the creepy, unsophisticated, dorky but crooked CPA. But the entire cast was great.

SPOILER ALERT:
A few plot holes are not given final redress: 1) Leo (the main character/small-time but smart grifter) is shown as shot dead at one point -- but he reappears in perfect health. Obviously, there was a con going on, but it was not explained.
Similarly, his wife was shot dead, with blood pouring out, but this, too, was apparently a con. Again, it was not explained.
But, because these grifters were so good at conning people, it is not too big a stretch of the imagination to guess how they pulled it off. If it were any other film, I would be crying "foul". But, in this case, the con jobs are so intricate --like those Russian nesting dolls that open up to reveal smaller and smaller dolls. Because the whole film shows cons within cons within cons, you (the viewer) can "go with" the plot, without feeling conned yourself.

This is a very under-rated film. It has many twists, but I did not find it too difficult to follow (which is a major feat in this film).
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