Inspired by THE USUAL SUSPECTS, this nihilistic puzzler lacks that film's supple direction but does confound viewer perceptions with its exceedingly jaundiced world view. Under the tutelage of professional smuggler Felix (Tim Curry), a quartet of amateurs pulls off a daring robbery, stealing a Degas sculpture from a Buenos Aires mansion. Unfortunately, Felix's boss, Mr. Ellington (Forrest Whittaker), receives a false tip that his newly acquired statue didn't make it onto the ocean liner that's supposed to deliver it into his hands. Back in New York City, neophyte crooks and life-long friends Julian (Balthazar Getty), Audrey (Olivia Williams), Holly (Stacy Edwards) and Kevin (Daniel London) stop celebrating when Ellington delivers new terms. If his artwork doesn't land in Manhattan harbor, the robbers are subject to a million-dollar forfeiture. After the foursome discovers Felix hanging in a warehouse, they realize Ellington means business. Rather than face jail time, they come up with a daring scheme that makes use of Holly's job as an insurance adjuster. They will backdate a policy with a million-dollar payoff; the catch is that one of them must die, and one of them must be the executioner. Audrey proposes a system of checks and balances. The policy will be placed in one of four safe-deposit boxes; the roles of executioner and victim will be chosen secretly by cards. Almost immediately, the friends turn on each other. Is the stolen masterpiece really missing? As the insurance/homicide scheme unravels, we learn that only one of the thieves knows all the facts. This flashy neo-noir picture's devious screenplay is too busy misleading the audience to make us care about the characters locked in this deadly game. But it's stylishly acted and manages some masterful tightening of the screws on the way to its shocking payoff.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: R
- Review: Inspired by THE USUAL SUSPECTS, this nihilistic puzzler lacks that film's supple direction but does confound viewer perceptions with its exceedingly jaundiced world view. Under the tutelage of professional smuggler Felix (Tim Curry), a quartet of amateurs… (more)