Go (1999): Doug Liman’s Tarantino-Inspired Black Comedy

John August wrote and Doug Liman directed Go, a structurally innovative, cleverly observed, highly entertaining black comedy, comprised of intertwining plots about three sets of characters.

The film, which world premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Fest, boasts an ensemble cast of young and gifted actors, including William Fichtner, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Sarah Polley, and Scott Wolf.

Also present are Taye Diggs, Breckin Meyer, Timothy Olyphant, Desmond Askew, J. E. Freeman, and Melissa McCarthy in her feature debut.

The three interlinked stories begin with cards announcing their main characters and their POV of the same events

The tale, titled “Ronna,” begins with Ronna (Sarah Polley), working overtime to avoid being evicted.  She is approached by Adam (Scott Wolf) and Zack (Jay Mohr), asking to supply the drug of ecstasy, which they hoped to buy from co-worker Simon (Desmond Askew).

Hoping to make profit, Ronna approaches Simon’s dealer Todd Gaines (Timothy Olyphant), but as she is unable to pay, leaving her friend and co-worker Claire (Katie Holmes) with Todd.

Ronna grows suspicious of Burke (William Fichtner), a stranger with Adam and Zack, and in panic flushes the drugs down the toilet. Ronna then steals aspirin to replace the ecstasy she disposed of.t

Ronna returns the pills to Todd and go to a rave. When Todd realizes the pills are fake, he pursues Ronna, who flees with Mannie. Ronna promises to return, but Todd confronts her with a gun, and she is hit by a speeding car.

The story is then retold from the perspective of Simon, who is going to Las Vegas with friends Marcus (Taye Diggs), Tiny (Breckin Meyer), and Singh (James Duval). Singh and Tiny get food poisoning, and Simon crashes a wedding and has sex with two bridesmaids before their hotel room accidentally goes on fire.

Marcus and Simon leave the hotel with a stolen car, heading to a strip club where Simon orders a lap dance using Todd’s credit. He enrages the bouncer Victor Jr. by groping a stripper. Simon shoots Victor Jr. and he and Marcus flee to the hotel. The four escape the bouncer and his father, Victor Sr. (J. E. Freeman), who traces Todd’s address from the credit card used at the club.

Again changing perspective, the new story, titled “Adam and Zack,” focuses on the two guys, actors in a soap opera, who are secretly involved in a gay relationship. Having been caught in a drug deal, Adam and Zack are forced to work with Burke, a police detective. When Ronna arrives to make the deal, Zack secretly warns her and she disposes of the drugs in the bathroom.

After the unsuccessful bust, Burke invites Adam and Zack to Christmas dinner. Adam and Zack observe strange behavior from Burke and wife Irene (Jane Krakowski). Burke is naked, and Irene hits on Adam, forcing the two to leave.

Discussing their infidelity, Adam and Zack realize they had cheated with the same person, Jimmy. They confront him at a rave, cutting his long hair. Leaving the rave they accidentally run over Ronna in the parking lot.

Adam then discovers that he is still wearing his wire. Fearing they have been recorded and will be discovered, the two return to the accident scene to remove Ronna’s body, but discover she is still alive. They watch from a distance as other party-goers call for ambulance.

Claire goes to a restaurant, hoping to meet Mannie and Ronna, and sees Todd instead. Claire starts talking to Todd and the two soon go back to Todd’s apartment. While making out on the stairs, they are confronted by Victor Jr. and Sr. As a form of justice, Simon agrees to be shot by Victor Jr., and a disgusted Claire leaves.

Ronna wakes up in a hospital, heading back to the supermarket, where Claire is also working. Ronna and Claire return to the venue to find Mannie pale and shaken. The three go to Ronna’s car, and Mannie asks about their plans for New Year’s.

After viewing Swingers, John August and the producers felt that Liman would be the right director. And indeed, Liman gives the film fast pacing, dark humor, and light-hearted, often irreverent tone, despite the central acts of crime and violence.

The film’s rapidly changing point of view, non-chronological format, and non-judgmental nature were obviously inspired by Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Moderately successful at the box office, Go grossed $28.5 million against a $20 million budget.

Cast

  • William Fichtner as Burke
  • Desmond Askew as Simon Baines
  • Scott Wolf as Adam
  • Jay Mohr as Zack
  • Sarah Polley as Ronna Martin
  • Timothy Olyphant as Todd Gaines
  • Katie Holmes as Claire Montgomery
  • Nathan Bexton as Mannie
  • Tony Denman as Track Suit Guy
  • Taye Diggs as Marcus
  • Breckin Meyer as Tiny
  • James Duval as Singh
  • Melissa McCarthy as Sandra
  • J. E. Freeman as Victor, Sr.
  • Jimmy Shubert as Victor, Jr.
  • Jane Krakowski as Irene