The preposterous plot turns are offset by sharply drawn characters in this thriller that hinges on bad karma. A whiz at clearing shady clients, defense attorney Callum Crane (Bill Pullman) is also an all-around creep: Not only does he rape his administrative assistant, Sophie Lennon (Gabrielle Anwar), but he then fires her, as though getting her out of the picture somehow absolves him of accountability. Though Sophie is surprisingly sanguine about the assault, she threatens to go public when she learns that Callum is in line for a federal judgeship. Meanwhile, petty criminal Nathan Corrigan (Devon Sawa) leaves the state pen with plans to go straight. Since he's at odds with his adoptive dad, he decides to locate his birth father. Surprise, surprise: Nathan's real dad is Callum Crane, who doesn't even know he has a son. Through the sort of plot contrivances common to convoluted thrillers, Nathan becomes involved with both Sophie and Callum. He rescues Callum from a mugging and reveals his checkered past without confessing his identity, and gets involved in a fender-bender with Sophie's roomate, Tanya Duncan (Angela Featherstone), falling for Sophie in the process. Before Nathan can spring his natal news, Callum offers him $25,000 to silence Sophie. Stunned by Callum's request, Nathan walks off with a packet containing the $5000 down payment and information about Sophie's habits and hangouts, which he shoves down a sewer. Unfortunately, Nathan's buddy Leo (Jaimz Woolvett), who's deeply in debt to some nasty loan sharks, retrieves the blood money and resolves to carry out the hit. A mutual pal tips off Nathan, who scrambles to reach Sophie before Leo does. Can Callum frame Nathan, turn Leo against him by claiming that Nathan kept the remaining $20,000 for the hit, and live happily ever after as a federal judge? Encumbered with enough twists to give Charles Dickens pause, this convoluted crime melodrama lacks the craftsmanship needed to tie its reversals of fortune together. It should plead guilty to the charge of excessive use of dei ex machinae.