Reviewer's grade: A
A noir thriller with an almost gleeful cruel streak, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is a riveting return to form for 83-year-old director Sidney Lumet, whose credits include "Dog Day Afternoon," "Network" and "Prince of the City." In this, his 45th feature-length picture, Lumet sharpens his knives on some stuff ripe for melodrama: family resentments and the desperation of corrupt souls.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke star as Andy and Hank Hanson, brothers with some serious money troubles and some misguided notions about how to get more. Andy is a vicious schemer who isn't as smart as he thinks. Hank is a born loser.
Together, the siblings decide to rob their parents' jewelry store tucked away next to a Foot Locker in a cookie-cutter strip mall. It's a bad idea, but only the first of many. Marked by great performances (especially Hoffman) and an unforgiving fatalism, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is magnificent. R