Reviewer: Freda Cooper
Director: Shintaro Shimosawa
Stars: Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung Hun Lee, Julia Stiles
Released: June 3rd, 2016
Remember the good old days? The ones when Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino on a cast list were synonymous with good acting and film making. Nowadays, all we can do is look back wistfully and comfort ourselves by watching their movies from the 70s and 80s.
Because their choice of films and roles nowadays are well beneath them. B movie equivalents and not especially good ones at that, meaning all they have to do is phone in their performances and collect their pay cheque on the way out. Then it’s down to the distributors to trade on their names in the hope of ticket/home entertainment sales.
So don’t be fooled by the marketing for “Misconduct”. Both actors feature prominently on the trailer, poster (which bears a remarkable resemblance to the one for Sean Connery’s 1989 crime drama, “Family Business”) and cast list, yet neither of them plays the lead. Thankfully, they’re given more to do than simply a cameo, although they could easily do more with a walk-on part than the rest of the cast do in the entire film. They’re in supporting roles, have exactly one scene together and even that fails to help the film ignite.
Josh Duhamel is actually in the lead role, as an ambitious, corner-cutting lawyer who’s contacted online by an old flame (Malin Akerman). She’s dating the CEO (Hopkins) of a big pharmaceutical company and wants out but he won’t let her go. So she gives her ex a data stick full of incriminating information, so he can take out a prosecution and put her billionaire boyfriend behind bars for good. But then things don’t pan out, the result is blackmail, corruption and, inevitably, murder.
Blackmail, corruption and murder are just the start in a convoluted screenplay that has more than a few holes. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to make sense, because it doesn’t. The main author of Duhamel’s problems isn’t difficult to figure out, but then there’s the dreaded twist in the tail – one that’s not just redundant, but downright silly. Nor do some of the characters, like the foul-mouthed security agent or the ludicrous Korean accountant, moonlighting as an assassin and behaving like a latter day ninja on a motorbike. It’s like Pacino says before he goes right over the top, “pardon the theatrics.”
But it’s hard to. He and Hopkins remind us that their heydays are a long time ago and that’s where this by-the-numbers attempt at a thriller belongs. We know they can do so much more and so much better and, depressingly, there’s little to recommend the film. Not even the photography can redeem it, even though it shows some signs of style. But then it tries to be arty by shooting characters from the shoulders down. Headless and ridiculous.
Why this feeble derivative attempt at a noir thriller isn’t going straight to DVD only the distributors can explain. Thankfully its release is limited. It’s a safe bet that the audience will be too.