Mis­con­duct

Empire (UK) - - CINEMAS -

JUNE 3 15 105 MINS.

DIREC­TOR Shin­taro Shi­mo­sawa CAST Josh Duhamel, An­thony Hop­kins, Al Pa­cino, Malin Ak­er­man

A hot­shot Louisiana lawyer (Duhamel), build­ing a case for his boss (Pa­cino) against a crooked phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ty­coon (Hop­kins), gets drawn into a twisted world of black­mail, cor­rup­tion and mur­der. N THEIR il­lus­tri­ous 40-yearplus film ca­reers, Al Pa­cino and An­thony Hop­kins have never had the plea­sure of trad­ing cre­atively un­hinged mono­logues on screen. This le­gal drama, al­most im­pres­sive in its fum­bling lu­di­crous­ness, marks their first time ap­pear­ing to­gether. And also, you’d ven­ture, rep­re­sents the pin­na­cle of all wasted cast­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

At some stage there may have been the ghost of a de­cent premise here. Briskly plot­ted early scenes in­tro­duce us to Arthur Den­ning (Hop­kins with a slick of white hair and al­most Trumpian hau­teur) — an im­pos­si­bly wealthy phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal boss weath­er­ing a storm of al­le­ga­tions about the grisly side ef­fects of his prod­ucts and also deal­ing with the ap­par­ent kid­nap of his young girl­friend Emily (Malin Ak­er­man). A flash­back then re­veals that, be­fore her dis­ap­pear­ance, Emily had handed in­for­ma­tion about Den­ning to her ex-boyfriend Ben Cahill (Duhamel, sport­ing a crin­kled brow and able to speak only in plot-clar­i­fy­ing ques­tions), a hotly am­bi­tious lawyer hop­ing to both please his boss Charles Abrams (Pa­cino, all Bayou court­li­ness and ex­pen­sive tai­lor­ing) and also stay faith­ful to his wife Char­lotte (Alice Eve, not quite sell­ing the emo­tional bruises of a re­cent trauma).

So, yeah, not a bad frame­work for a mash-up of a Gr­isham-es­que pot­boiler and a Fa­tal At­trac­tion­style thriller. The prob­lem is, al­most noth­ing works. When it isn’t tick­ing off im­plau­si­ble twists a te­len­ov­ela writer would dis­miss as too far-fetched, the script is weighed down by huge dumps of ex­po­si­tion and head-in-hands first-draft clunkers (“Be as calm as ice,” ad­vises a de­tec­tive at one point).

The ob­tru­sive score — all jagged vi­o­lins and sin­is­ter per­cus­sion — per­haps points to the over­heated, know­ing noir Mis­con­duct hoped to be. But first time direc­tor Shin­taro Shi­mo­sawa can’t lo­cate a con­sis­tent tone or mar­shal the deep­en­ing vi­o­lent mys­tery. What’s more, later scenes — in a des­per­ate bid to raise the stakes — show a de­press­ing propen­sity for dol­ing out phys­i­cal cru­elty to fe­male char­ac­ters and, as the whole thing flails to an un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous con­clu­sion nicked from Gone Girl, Shi­mo­sawa’s cam­era never ceases its odd habit of tilt­ing and slid­ing like a dis­tracted drunk. Add to that the fact that Hop­kins and Pa­cino share only the briefest of scenes and that ti­tle starts to feel like a damn­ing verdict, hid­den in plain sight. JIMI FAMUREWA

“We’re both or­der­ing hard-boiled. End of dis­cus­sion.”

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