Too Nice A Heist


Midas is an upbeat film about a robbery that doesn’t take many risks.

The plot: Ricky is a college dropout who works a menial job delivering food orders. He’s stayed at home to care for his young sister and ailing mother, who is on a grueling program of cancer treatments. Ricky’s friends Victor and Sunita are faring better in the job market, Victor in IT and Sunita at ground level at Midas Health Insurance Company, the same place that recently laid off Ricky’s mother. Sunita invites Ricky to Midas’ company party. He shows up wearing a Harvard t-shirt as a joke and doesn’t correct the CEO’s daughter, Claire when she assumes that’s his alma mater. By evading questions and riding assumptions, Ricky is hired as a claims coordinator. Once there, he concocts a plan to hack Midas’ records and fund his mother’s surgery. And he’s stunned by what else he finds.

Midas has the bones of a heist film, beginning with its bouncy Jackie Brown-style opening and its buddy dynamic á la Ocean’s Eleven. Most of the action involves characters talking, in the bar Sunita tends (she holds down two jobs) and in the Midas offices. A few staged gatherings are set pieces, but there are no exotic locales or lifestyles (Midas was filmed in Hartford, CT.). The stakes are low because the budget is. Nothing wrong with that. It’s good to see pockets of filmmaking pop up in places other than Hollywood and Atlanta.

But as a movie, Midas holds back. It doesn’t want trouble or to shake things up too much, even as it takes on a pretty gnarly idea. Ricky’s mother’s case is part of the Midas Company’s hush-hush Project Foresight: a scheme to use ancestral genetic data to reject health insurance claims. Immediate family history is no longer the only factor; the Midas Company reaches ‘way, ‘way back to mine data that provides hereditary reasons to deny claims.

And did I mention that Ricky is Black?

However, Midas isn’t a political film and has little to do with race exploitation. Ricky enlists Sunita (beautiful Indian) and Victor (handsome Hispanic) to expose Midas’ devious plan. Ricky and his pals of color move amongst the rarified white crowd with impunity. A charged situation like in Get Out might come to mind.

That isn’t to say that racial disparity needs to be the point here because it doesn’t. This also isn’t to say that all films should be woke enough to use diversity for its own sake. But Midas sets us up for something powerful, then backs off. It plays nice and doesn’t want to ruffle feathers. It doesn’t tackle issues like class structure. Given the setup, one can imagine how different it would play with an all-Black cast or if its ostensible antagonists weren’t quite so white.

The actors are attractive and mostly newcomers. As Ricky, Laquan Copeland has the most to do. Mr. Copeland has the kind of face that’s compelling on posters (see photo) and can go from homeboy to heroic when animated. Preet Kaur (Sunita) makes an elegant accomplice; she’s previously been in Finding Tony and straight-to-VOD stuff with irresistible titles like Road Wars: Max Fury. Federico Parra (Victor) is properly determined in his IT role; you’ll know him from Apple TV’s Dear Edward. Lucy Powers (Claire) has been seen on TV in Law & Order SVU and Victor vs. the Metaverse. Bob Gallagher and Eric Bloomquist round out the cast nicely as, respectively, Midas’ CEO and nepotistic nephew.

Taken on its own modest terms, Midas is extremely watchable. Its comedy is harmless, and its suspense is low-impact, coming from forging authorizations and waiting for files to download. Writer/director TJ Noel-Sullivan has directed short films, and his storytelling is confident, if not adventurous. This is the first offering of Mr. Noel-Sullivan’s Hartford Film Company. His stated purpose is to entertain, and Midas certainly does that. It's a good enough movie, but its choices imply something with more bite.


Midas. Directed by TJ Noel-Sullivan. 2024. From The Hartford Film Company. In theaters. 85 minutes.

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