Wall Street veteran Ruth Epstein spent seven years developing her screenplay for this startlingly timely thriller about the geopolitics of oil production. Set in the near future, the film posits a war between the U.S. and the fictitious Confederacy of Arab States that has slowed oil exports to a trickle. American drivers are reeling from ongoing shortages and sticker shock at the pump as they shell out $6 a gallon for gasoline. New York-based investment banker Tom Hanson (Christian Slater) is still reeling from the aftermath of an ugly and expensive divorce, and the company for which he works, the venerable Delaney & Strong, is on shaky financial ground. Hanson is still sharp enough to recognize a lucrative opportunity in idealistic Harvard MBA Abbey Gallagher's (Selma Blair) proposal to convert energy tax credits for eco-friendly businesses into marketable securities. He gets Abbey a gig at Delaney & Strong and starts putting her plan into practice. Meanwhile, an old friend of Tom's is killed in an apparent robbery and his boss, captain of industry Jared Tolson (Robert Loggia), asks Tom to take over the project his friend was working on. Tolson's Condor energy company is preparing to take over a Russian oil and gas company called Blackstar, but Tolson needs an outside evaluation of Blackstar's net worth before Condor's board will OK the deal. Blackstar's flourishing oil fields in Kazakhstan could help ameliorate the energy crisis, make Condor billions, pull Delaney & Strong out of its hole and revitalize Tom's career all he has to do is sign off on the financial. But at the same time the energy tax-credit scheme goes south thanks to new regulations, Tom realizes that there's something very fishy about Blackstar's business practices. With Delaney & Strong's squeaky-clean reputation and his own career on the line, Tom is caught in a tightening net of blackmail, corporate corruption and murder. Shot largely in Toronto and cast with the best of the B-list, this film has the low-rent gloss of a made-for-cable thriller, chockablock with glamorous Russian gangsters, bloody hearts in Valentine boxes, hits on inconveniently principled executives and perfunctory romantic complications. But Epstein's insider knowledge helps ground the silliness and serves as a reminder that the dirty business of doing business is, like the making of sausage and politics, something the average person rests easier for not having seen up close.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: Wall Street veteran Ruth Epstein spent seven years developing her screenplay for this startlingly timely thriller about the geopolitics of oil production. Set in the near future, the film posits a war between the U.S. and the fictitious Confederacy of Arab… (more)