Middle Men (film)
|Directed by||George Gallo|
|Produced by||Christopher Mallick |
|Written by||George Gallo |
|Starring||Luke Wilson |
|Music by||Brian Tyler|
|Edited by||Malcolm Campbell|
Oxymoron Entertainment & Paramount Pictures
|Distributed by||Paramount Vantage|
Middle Men is a 2009 American drama film directed by George Gallo and written by Gallo and Andy Weiss. It stars Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht and James Caan. The movie is based on the experiences of Christopher Mallick who was previously associated with the internet billing companies Paycom and ePassporte. Christopher Mallick has been accused of stealing millions of dollars from his customers at ePassporte to fund the creation of the film.
In 2004 Houston, Jack Harris drives with several million dollars in a duffel bag to deliver to Russian mobsters, worried about the safety of his wife Diana and their children.
In 1997 Los Angeles, Jack has a reputation for solving problems, and helps a sick friend co-managing a newly set up nightclub. Wayne Beering and Buck Dolby are best friends, renting a small dingy flat together, though often hot-headedly at each other's throats. The slacker drug-addicted friends are discussing pornography one evening and Wayne asks why one still cannot buy porn on the internet instead of having to rely on crappy way over-rewatched adult DVDs. As they discuss the logistics of such a possibility, suddenly a bright idea light-bulb switches on in Buck's head. As a former NASA scientist, Buck takes a mere 15 minutes to create a program to allow online credit card transactions to charge people for looking at porn on their website. To their utter surprise (even at a cheeky $9.99 a pop) they quickly earn thousands of dollars in a matter of just days. In no time at all they're inundated with clients rolling in at all hours. Needing more porn material to satisfy the demand, they approach Nikita Sokoloff, a rather crazed Russian mob boss who owns a local strip club; who agrees to 25% of their business in return for letting them photograph and film his strippers in action.
Buck and Wayne's website is successful and they celebrate their newfound riches by partying in Las Vegas whilst neglecting to make the promised payments to Sokoloff. Jack has made the L.A. nightclub a success and attracts the attention of Jerry Haggerty, a crooked lawyer hired by Wayne and Buck to sort out their problem with Sokoloff, who's aggressively on their backs after his cut. Jack meets the two friends and soon becomes a partner in the business; but, not wanting to be a pornographer, Jack recommends they rather become more like 'middle men' and instead take a cut of the credit card money transfers, which would allow them even larger profits. Jack pays off Haggerty $200,000, knowing Haggerty is under federal indictment and therefore a threat to the business.
Sokoloff's mobster nephew comes to collect his $400,000 profit, but when he threatens to hurt/kill Jack's family/son, one of Jack's body guards punches his head so hard that he starts bleeding from one ear, acting oddly, and soon falls over stone dead. A now panicked Jack and his partners dump the body in the ocean and fabricate a story that Sokoloff's nephew pilfered the money and ran. Sokoloff is highly skeptical, but agrees to let it pass in return for a further increase to 50% of the partnership.
Jack expands the business by focusing on the online credit card billing services, soon needing their very own building to house it all. They create a billing company called "24/7 billing.com", becoming the titular 'Middle Men' for other internet-based porn providers. The billing business is making hundreds of millions of dollars within a year, so much so that they struggle to keep track of all the cash. Jack becomes addicted to the money, sex and power of his new lifestyle and consequently spends little time with his Houston family. As hard as he tries, soon temptation overcomes his resolve and he starts a relationship with an irresistible young entrepreneur porn star, Audrey Dawns.
Haggerty, bitter that Jack cut him out of what has become a multimillion-dollar partnership, schemes to bleed them of more cash or take over the company. He manipulates the foolish Wayne and Buck to work with Denny Z, providing billing services for Denny's dodgy websites which include underage/child pornography.
Audrey's live stream porn site hooks the attention of a particular young terrorist who's soon obsessed. In no time many of his terror-cell mates have been linked over to Audrey's charms. The site becomes watched by an international web of masturbating terrorists, which the US government uses to accurately track, then arrest or kill said terrorists. The FBI asks for Jack and Audrey's help to expand their terrorist hunt, but a paranoid Wayne and Buck fear that Jack is meeting with the FBI to betray/turn them in for the murder of Sokoloff's nephew and/or the alleged underage porn. In a panic, the two confide in Haggerty, also ultimately disclosing about killing Sokoloff's nephew, which Haggerty uses to incite Sokoloff to make a vengeful move on Jack (& their golden egg laying 'goose').
When Jack finds out that his partners are helping facilitate Denny Z's child porn, he confronts Denny Z at a house party. When he retaliates, Jack disarms then shoots Denny in the foot with the guy's own gun. On his way back out, Jack happens upon and sees Audrey having sex with two men/clients of hers at the party, and realizes how much he misses his own family. This leads him to later break up with Audrey, going back on a promise he made her previously.
An FBI agent, appreciative of the critical help Jack has given the government, warns him that 24/7billing.com is about to be indicted for supporting child porn. Jack's life is further complicated when Sokoloff's men mistakenly kidnap his maid's son, who they erroneously believe is Jack's son. Nevertheless, Jack gathers up several million dollars and goes to meet Sokoloff to attempt save the kid, as seen at the start of the film.
Jack is told that the boy will be released only if he signs a contract giving his partnership share to Wayne, Buck, Sokoloff, and Haggerty (Buck & Wayne stand by sheepishly, though have little say in the matter). Jack signs the agreement, realising this is just the lucky break he needed to exit the situation, so asks to backdate the contract six months, claiming he wants to avoid all the unnecessary taxes. Just as Haggerty is boasting his triumph over Jack, Sokoloff surprises him with a bullet in his back, deeming him too untrustworthy for partnership. He lets Jack go however, in recognition of all the money he has made him; "Sometimes business is more important than family", he smirks.
Jack and the maid's son return home safe and sound. Jack's FBI contact charges Wayne and Buck with providing billing services for child porn. Jack avoids being charged due to having sold the company before the crimes were committed. Whereas Sokoloff flees the country, dodging off back to mother Russia to luxuriate in all his ill-gotten gains. Diane reluctantly, yet clearly pleased with the outcome, welcomes Jack back to the family home and marriage. ... (A pre-title postscript denotes that they in fact remain happily married to this very day, in real life, even adding a further 2 kids to the mix. ... And noting that Buck & Wayne endured a mere 18-month stint out of a possible 5-year sentence, before being paroled. ... Now free to enjoy their many crazy millions!)
- Luke Wilson as Jack Harris
- Giovanni Ribisi as Wayne Beering
- Gabriel Macht as Buck Dolby
- James Caan as Jerry Haggerty
- Jacinda Barrett as Diana Harris
- Kevin Pollak as FBI Agent Curt Allmans
- Laura Ramsey as Audrey Dawns
- Rade Šerbedžija as Nikita Sokoloff
- Terry Crews as James
- Kelsey Grammer as District Attorney Frank Griffin
- John Ashton as Morgan
Middle Men was released on August 6, 2010.
The first official theatrical trailer for the film was released on June 16, 2010.
A red band trailer was released on July 10, 2010.
A long take sequence taking place at an orgy was cut from the film. The scene's inclusion would have pushed the film from an R rating to an NC17 rating. The scene was subsequently leaked to adult video clip website Pornhub. It was subsequently included on the home-video release.
The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 40% based on 50 reviews. The sites consensus states "Middle Men benefits from a solid cast, particularly Luke Wilson, but its muddled script lets them down". Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 60% based on reviews from 20 critics.
The film grossed only $754,301 at the box office during its three-week run. The budget was $20 million.
Middle Men was released February 8, 2011.
Two soundtrack albums were released, both on August 3, 2010: Middle Men: Original Motion Picture Score, composed by Brian Tyler, and Middle Men: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, collecting songs used in the film.
All tracks written by Brian Tyler.
|1.||"My Name Is Jack Harris"||1:46|
|4.||"Wayne And Buck"||2:09|
|6.||"Down The Rabbit Hole"||2:47|
|8.||"Back To LA"||1:42|
|9.||"Aimless Electricity Upon Touching"||4:30|
|17.||"Middle Men Finale"||3:07|
- Rich, Katey (2010-02-19). "Paramount Picks Up Luke Wilson Indie Middle Men". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
- "Middle Men". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
- "Middle Men - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
- Dave McNary (September 18, 2008). "Wilson, Ribisi to star in 'Middle Men'". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2009.
- Sanjiv Bhattacharya (2011-03-01). "Inside Hollywoods Greatest Vanity Project". Details. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
- "AVN - 'After Porn Ends' Gets Life After Porn on iTunes". Business.avn.com. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- "Following the Money, ePassporte Edition — Krebs on Security". krebsonsecurity.com. 2010-09-15. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "AVN - ePassporte CEO Issues Statement to Calm the Masses". Business.avn.com. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "Middle Men Full Trailer". The Film Stage. June 16, 2010. Archived from the original on June 17, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
- TMZ Staff (July 23, 2010). "Luke Wilson's New Movie -- Deleted Orgy Scene". TMZ.
- "Middle Men (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
- "Middle Men". Metacritic.