Knockaround Guys is probably the last chance you’ll get to see Vin Diesel in a supporting role for a while, but that’s not why you want to see it. You want to see it because it’s a nifty little ensemble drama with a nasty sense of humor and a tight story structure. Sure, Vin is good and he gets to beat people up, but Barry Pepper and Seth Green and Andrew Davoli are pretty good too. Dennis Hopper’s kind of phoning it in, but John Malkovich is delightful. Solid stuff.
The guys who wrote and directed this also wrote Rounders, which I thought was really good if you cut away the obligatory romance bit. Knockaround Guys has no romance, and thus is free to be purely what it is. It’s a Mafia movie in the sense that the Mafia is the context within which the characters operate, but it’s not about the Mafia in the way that (say) Goodfellas was about the Mafia. It’s about friendship and manhood and other such manly matters… oh, hell, I’ll just say it. It’s a coming of age movie.
But it does have some good fight scenes.