Obsessed by the world of pool, Johnny could be one of the best. But his mentor and "trainer" Joe, a shady hustler who decides how and who Johnny plays, is holding him back from his dream. When the day finally comes, Johnny breaks from Joe. This leads to only one thing--violence. Joe is beaten up by some of Johnny's buddies as a sign to leave him alone, and with this final act of freedom Johnny leaves the world of pool-sharking. However, Joe is hell-bent on seeking revenge for the beating he took, and he soon finds a new protÃ©gÃ©, Brad, who is just as good--if not better than Johnny. The two are pit against each other in a "race to nine" showdown that ends up in a high-stakes game of pool for large sums of money, respect, and more importantly--Johnny and his brother Danny's life.
The overreaching messiness of "Poolhall Junkies" is almost redeemed by its pool hall sequences, in which Mars Callahan, the movie's writer and director as well as its star, shows his affection for Mamet-y lowlife idioms and small-time grifter scenarios. As an actor he has more dedication than skill, and as a director he does best when he is not pushing the story but rather sitting back to observe the banter of the players and the intricate, fast-paced physics of the table. — A. O. Scott
2003-02-28 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Poolhall Junkies