Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2004. Paramount Pictures, Intermedia Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, Cruise/Wagner Productions. Story by Zak Penn, Screenplay by Zak Penn, Billy Ray. Cinematography by Michael Chapman. Produced by Gaye Hirsch, E. Elias Merhige, Paula Wagner. Music by Clint Mansell. Production Design by Ida Random. Costume Design by Mary Claire Hannan, Lizz Wolf. Film Editing by John Gilroy, Robert K. Lambert.
A demoted FBI agent (Aaron Eckhart) has just arrived at his new position in New Mexico after a fiasco in Dallas years before that had him apprehending a serial murderer under illegal circumstances. Now hanging his Kirk Douglas chin in shame, he has another case fall into his lap when three murdered bodies turn up and lead to an insane obsessive compulsive (Ben Kingsley) who thinks he’s one of the good guys. When the victims of the crimes turn out to be serial killers themselves, we start to wonder if maybe the creepy guy isn’t a weird kind of avenging angel who really is helping the law solve a lot of unsolved murders. Even eerier, Kingsley’s character has been catching up to all these evil men by using telepathic means that he learned in a top-secret FBI operation which has been dormant for years. Eckhart has to find him and stop his vigilante ways while also solving the current case of a child kidnapper who is still on the loose. The film has a curiously sinister atmosphere to it that will get under your skin but won’t catch your interest completely. Director E. Elias Merhige (Shadow Of The Vampire) relies on so many drawn-out, underplayed scenarios that the whole thing feels like it’s happening in the next theatre. It’s a textbook example of how bad sound design can ruin an entire movie, and also an odd reversal on the usual way that Hollywood thrillers are made: it has a fresh and original story that is ruined by bad execution. Kingsley has a good time being the crazy baddie, but the role is a mere exercise, something for him to do in his sleep and collect a paycheque for amid the Sexy Beast, and House Of Sand And Fog roles. Carrie-Anne Moss is marvelous in a very underdeveloped role as Eckhart’s partner and former love interest.