Phil Joanou’s Heaven’s Prisoners: A Review by Nate Hill 

Phil Joanou’s Heaven’s Prisoners is a great little sweaty southern crime yarn that, as I recall, went through a modicum of production hell which some people seem to think stunted any chance it had. I for one think it came out just fine, a moody little neo noir with an intense yet laconic turn from Alec Baldwin, a gorgeous lineup of femme fatales to contend with played by some of the most talented gals out there, and a wily supporting turn from a cornrow sporting Eric Roberts. Baldwin plays Dave Robicheaux, an ex New Orleans who is rousted from tranquil relaxation on the bayou when a mysterious Cessna plane crashes into the marsh near him. Upon exploring it he turns up a considerable amount of drugs, no doubt on their way from somewhere bad to someplace worse. This is the catalyst for a whole whack of trouble falling into his lap, literally and figuratively. He is drawn into a lethal dragnet involving corrupt DEA, his old pal and drug lord Bubba Rocque  (Roberts, a prince in the limited screen time he gets), his dangerous moll (Teri Hatcher, sexy and malicious), and more. Baldwin navigates it all with a cold eyed cool of a professional who has been to these places before, both as actor and character. The stakes are high though, as he has a wife of his own (Kelly Lynch) who could potentially be dragged into the mess, and a former flame (Mary Stuart Masterson) who blows back into his life like a tropical storm cell. This film is based on a series of novels by James Lee Burke, all starring Robicheaux and chronicling his hard boiled adventures. You can also check out the excellent In The Electric Mist, another of these yarns from 2008 where Tommy Lee Jones takes up the mantle. Joanou knows the ropes and rigs of film noir, and paces this baby nicely, never too loud or proud and always with the laid back, simmering vibe of the south. 

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