One wonders if Oliver Stone is trying to pacify a series of nagging critical voices who felt let down by the underrated World Trade Centre with this. All the ingredients are there – some great actors in supporting roles; dark, violent subject matter; complex relationships; criminal underworld machinations. Surely this is made for Oliver Stone to hit his stride once again? Well, no. There are good things in it, but they’re not enough.
This is film hamstrung by a few things. For a start, there’s a lot of (well directed and shot) violence, but not enough threat. I never really felt that any of the characters I was supposed to care about were in any sort of danger. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t – but I didn’t feel it. Compare this to last year’s ‘Drive’ and you’ll find a film that got that right.
It’s woefully miscast in places. John Travolta thinks he’s in a Tarantino film. He’s not. He’s in an Oliver Stone film. Oliver Stone may be a better director than QT, but he doesn’t show it here. Travolta looks ridiculous and confused. Salma Hayek is also in the wrong film – she clearly thinks she’s in something like a violent new direction for Pedro Almodovar. But she’s not.
Then there’s Benicio Del Toro, who veers between parody, violence and leering in all the wrong places. At one point, he even twirls his moustache. Yes, really. He twirls his moustache.
Then, in the last ten minutes there’s what can only be described as a directorial flourish that’s intended to be oh so post-modern but is in fact just silly. It only goes to confirm that the central three characters are as shallow and empty as I suspected all along.
Oh, and the script has been evidently been written, or at least contributed to, by a high school film studies student who’s trying to be deep and fun at the same time. And failing.
Look, this is an Oliver Stone film. There’s good stuff in it. But at the end of the day, Oliver Stone needed to decide what sort of film he wanted this to be. Then make sure it was that.
I rated this movie 2.5/5 on rottentomatoes.com and 5/10 on imdb.com