Years after the Quentin Tarantino earthquake first hit, slang-fueled screenplays still impress the small-studio suits. And so we have Paul McGuigan's smug but frequently witty crime cartoon, set in a mythical New York City where dueling underworld kingpins (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley) face each other in sealed towers. The plot is a standard one-up grift over The Usual Suspects that seems impossible to untangle until the film explains it all, laboriously, in speeches. We begin with a wheelchair-lounging Bruce Willis in a bus depot (the smirking starts early and does not subside) and then jump to Josh Hartnett's amiable new kid in town, mistaken for his deadbeat friend and put on the block by both bosses. Despite a bubbly rapport between Hartnett's boy-toy and Lucy Liu's flibbertigibbet coroner, the meaningless story mechanics begin locking gears and churning out contrivances, cliches, and pounding glibness. It's a waggish but empty vessel, with time enough for you to consider how Tarantino's babbling influence is at least preferable to that of Joe Eszterhas.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: Jason Smilovic
Producer: Christopher Eberts, Andreas Grosch, Kia Jam, Robert Kravis, Tyler Mitchell and Anthony Rhulen
Cast: Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu, Kevin Chamberlin, John Ghaly, Sam Jaeger, Stanley Tucci and Janet Lane