Go, a new film from Doug Liman, director of Swingers, isn't a sequel to that clever 1996 homage to ironic hipsterism, but something more like a companion piece. With an ensemble cast of on-the-way-up actors and an intricate narrative structure that manages to recall both Robert Altman and Quentin Tarentino, Go, as its title might suggest, is a fast and furious ride.
Not unlike Short Cuts, Go has an abundance of characters, and much like Pulp Fiction, it 'retraces' events, providing different perspectives, backstories and overlapping narratives. For example, Go begins with supermarket checkout clerk Ronna (Sarah Polley) agreeing to score 20 hits of ecstasy, which she can resell for her rent money, and saying goodbye to her British co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew), who is off to Las Vegas for the weekend. Ronna's evening goes horribly awry, but, scarcely losing a beat, the narrative scrolls back to Simon's farewell and suddenly we're following him to Vegas, with his pal Marcus (Taye Diggs) and two other friends--both of the latter will succumb to food poisoning from eating tainted shrimp--where new adventures await. This sort of tinkering with narratives might suggest an awful lot of work for an audience, but the opposite is true: Go segues from one story to another with cheeky assurance.
Simon and Marcus don't have an easy time of it in Las Vegas. Not only does their hotel room catch fire, but Simon manages to break the 'no touching' rule at the Crazy Horse strip club, an infraction which, we are told, could cost him an arm. Simon also uses a credit card stolen from drug dealer Todd, which results in the latter being tracked down by Crazy Horse security men. Faced with charges of arson, grand theft auto and attempted murder, Simon and Marcus hightail it out of Vegas, but whatever good luck they had is obviously running low. Meanwhile, other stories, equally tragicomic, are unfolding with a mix-and-match array of characters, including a pair of soap-opera actors (Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr), a suspicious narc (William Fichtner) and Ronna's friend Claire (Katie Holmes), who is left as human collateral at a drug dealer's apartment.
If Swingers was a poetic look at some determinedly hip young players in L.A., Go offers a wry view of some disaffected youths--a cross-section of what one might label 'Generation Y'--some in control, others fairly clueless. There's a darkness, too, about John August's script, an arbitrariness which can turn someone's life around in a split second--and maybe even end it. Ronna's fate is especially cruel, all the more so because Sarah Polley brings such a luminous quality to this bored but resourceful blue-collar kid. The film's other outstanding performance is turned in by Diggs (How Stella Got Her Groove Back), whose charismatic Marcus represents a voice of reason, a welcome stop sign in a movie that seems committed to full-speed-ahead.