Phoenix Movie (1998)

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Director: Danny Canon

Producers: Victoria Nevinny, Tracie Graham Rice

Writer: Eddie Richey

Stars: Ray Liotta, Anthony LaPaglia, Daniel Baldwin, Jeremy Piven

Music: Graeme Revell

Photography: James L. Carter

Editor: Zach Staenberg

Running Time: 107 min

Language: English

Genre: Crime, Drama


Ray Liotta Harry Collins

Anthony LaPaglia Mike Henshaw

Anjelica Huston Leila

Daniel Baldwin James Nutter

Jeremy Piven Fred Shuster

George Aguilar Mr. Fat

Tom Noonan Chicago

Xander Berkeley Lt. Clyde Webber

Giancarlo Esposito Louie

Brittany Murphy Veronica

Kari Wührer Katie Shuster

Giovanni Ribisi Joey Schneider

Royce D. Applegate Dickerman


Harry Collins (Ray Liotta) is a compulsive gambling cop in Phoenix, Arizona. He owes money to Chicago (Tom Noonan), a local gangster. Chicago threatens his life if he fails to pay him back on time.

During a gambling game, Hary picks up Veronica (Brittany Murphy) to distract his opponents. His plan proves futile as he still loses and later tagging the lady as bad luck. He drops the lady at her place where he ends meeting up with Leila, Veronica’s mother. The latter and Harry develop a romantic relationship in his attempt of getting a new lucky charm.

Chicago gives Harry an ultimatum of forty eight hours to repay his debt or kill Joey, a suspect behind bars. Harry decides to steal from local moneylender (Louie) instead. Harry recruits fellow immoral cops Henshaw and James Nutter and a prudent one in Fred Shuster.

Shuster later discovers that his wife, Katie, and Henshaw are having an affair. Out of fury, he collaborates with Lt. Clyde Webber to ensure the corrupt cops are dealt with. They make a mess of their plan as Henshaw kills Louie before he opens the safe.

The group splits up but Harry hires a locksmith later to unlock the safe. Lt. Webber betrays Shuster by killing him and unsuccessfully shooting at Harry who escapes with an injury. The former escapes with the money instead.

The other two corrupt cops arrive and they discover Shuster’s death. They decide to hunt and kill Harry thinking that he had betrayed them. However, they are surrounded by a police squad and Henshaw kills Nutter when he attempts to give in. Henshaw is also killed after the act.

Harry catches up with Webber and he burns up some of the money he had. He also uses some of the money to pay Chicago’s debt. Chicago accepts the money but he already had Joey killed while in prison. Furious of Chicago’s act, Harry kills him and his bodyguards. He stumbles out of the scene and leaves by his car.


Phoenix is an interesting slick crime thriller summed up with a good casting and incredible plot. Producer (Victoria Nevinny) must have fetched so much to get this incredible cast. They fit precisely well in their roles.

Harry Collins being the lead is a superstitious, corrupt, and an unappealing cop. He co-produces a movie perfectly illustrating the bad acts of the police department in Phoenix. His greed though does not exceed his code of honor. He doesn’t give in to Chicago’s command to kill a prisoner. On the contrary he ends up killing him instead after getting the news that Chicago had the prisoner killed.

Mike Henshaw simply stole the show. He is the epitome of immorality. He haves an affair with his colleague’s wife, collects money on behalf of a moneylender and the best of all, adding grace period to an indebted man in exchange for sex with his wife.

Leila has a warm heart towards Harry, but she also rebukes his immoral acts. The rest of the cast fit in perfectly making the film more likeable.

The producer choice of backdrop is second to none. He used different backdrops for different scenes. Backed with admirable picture quality by the cinematographer, the scenes look lively and attractive.

Humor, romance, action, and drama are some of the genres in which the film cuts across. The theme of betrayal and foul play is also portrayed in the film. The conversations between characters are so creative making the low note sections of the movie interesting too.

The film is R rated, has crude language, killings, partial nudity and suggested sexual intercourse. This makes the movie unsuitable for general family. However, if you are bored and looking for something to lighten you up, Phoenix is the movie. Being a 1998 movie, the creativity of the plot surpasses a majority of the movies produced in this era.


This one surpassed my expectations and I would recommend it to others, especially if you’re a fan of the crime/drama stuff. The fact that I was forced to watch the movie late night when everyone was asleep is enough to prove its R rating. And after digging into what 3,000 others felt about the movie, I arrived at an average rating of 6.4, which is well above average.

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