'Misconduct': Film Review

Courtesy of Lionsgate Premiere
The film's title is all too appropriate.
2/5/2016

Oscar winners Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins star in this film noir-style thriller.

Although one of its central characters is a ruthless, unscrupulous pharmaceutical company executive, Misconduct, sadly, is not a biopic about Martin Shkreli. Rather, it's the sort of by-the-numbers, forgettable thriller, starring actors whose marquee days are behind them, that is routinely dumped in theaters and on VOD. Showcased here are Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino, reminding us that the 1970s and 1980s were a long time ago.

Actually, those screen veterans have only supporting roles here. The real star is Josh Duhamel, with the estimable ensemble cast also including Alice Eve, Malin Akerman and Julia Stiles.

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Duhamel plays Ben, an ambitious Southern lawyer who, in familiar film noir style, gets embroiled far above his head in a murderous conspiracy. Although married to Charlotte (Eve), who is still deeply depressed over a recent miscarriage, he makes the mistake of hooking up one night with his ex-girlfriend Emily (Akerman), the main squeeze of Arthur Denning (Hopkins), a billionaire drug company owner trying to cover up hundreds of deaths caused by his product.

Armed with insider information leaked by Emily, Ben goes to his boss (Pacino), his law firm's head honcho who uses a pen worth $68,000. After much cajoling, he assigns Ben the case, although not before warning him, "You get a nine-figure judgment or get a new job."

The convoluted screenplay by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason features kidnapping, betrayal, murder and such colorful characters as a hilariously profane female FBI agent (Stiles) and a terminally ill Korean accountant who moonlights as an assassin (Byung Hun Lee).

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Viewers shouldn't be too hard on themselves for failing to navigate the plot's ridiculous twists and turns. But they should be hard on the film for its lurid, over-the-top style, which is barely excused by Pacino's character intoning "please pardon the theatrics" just before committing a melodramatic act.

The two Oscar winners chew up the scenery with abandon. They also serve as a sort of cinematic black hole, sucking the rest of the performers into the nothingness with their star power.

Director Shintaro Shimosawa injects the proceedings with undeniable visual style, with Michael Filmognari's elegantly sinuous cinematography at least providing something of interest for the eyes, if not the brain.

Distributors: Lionsgate Premiere, Grindstone Entertainment Group
Production: Mike and Marty Productions
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung Hun Lee, Julia Stiles, Glen Powell
Director: Shintaro Shimosawa
Screenwriters: Simon Boyes, Adam Mason
Producer: Ellen Wander
Executive producers: Matthew Milam, Stan Wertlieb, Barry Brooker, Gary Preisler, Eric Brenner, Tomas Eskilsson, Frank Bonn, Fredrik Zander, Chris Brown, Darrel Casalino, Amanda Seward, Tony Buzbee, Michael T. Covell
Director of photography: Michael Fimognari
Production designer: Bernardo Trujillo
Editors: Gregers Dohn, Henrik Kallberg
Costume designer: Lizz Wolf
Composer: Federico Jusid
Casting: Brent Caballero

Rated R, 106 minutes

 

 

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