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Thursday Reviews

Like too many other independent films made in the wake of Quentin Tarantino, this grindingly violent pastiche apes all the Tarantino mannerisms without connecting to them in any meaningful fashion. Shaking off his partners Dallas (Paulina Porizkova) and Billy Hill (James Le Gros), LA felon Nick (Aaron Eckhart) drops by the Houston home of his reformed, happily married brother Casey (Thomas Jane). Nick hides a cache of stolen heroin there, leaves his car at his brother's, borrows his brother's car, and drives off to kill the dope-peddlers he's ripping off. Casey, who is awaiting the arrival of adoption agency counselor Dr. Jarvis (Michael Jeter), discovers the heroin and angrily dumps it down the sink. When Rasta Man (Glenn Plummer), a drug dealer/user who's been trailing Nick, invades Casey's house, Casey pretends to get high with him and hangs the doped-up dealer upside down in the garage. Doing his damndest to impress Jarvis, Casey's dream of fatherhood evaporates when Dallas drops by and regales Jarvis with Casey's criminal past. Jarvis storms out. Billy Hill arrives, shoots Dallas, and prepares to torture Casey, who overcomes him and suspends him upside down in the garage next to Rasta Man. Fatally wounded by the drug dealers he ripped off, Nick calls and drops hints about the whereabouts of $2 million of drug money. Casey is next visited by Kasarov (Mickey Rourke), a crooked cop who kills Rasta Man and Billy Hill and demands that Casey give him the stolen money. When the dealers Nick has robbed also converge on the house, Casey plays them against Kasarov's contingent; the two groups annihilate each other. Having deduced that Nick hid the money in the hubcaps of Nick's car, Casey retrieves the dough. When his wife returns home from a business trip, Casey persuades her to run away with him to France. It takes more than gruesome violence and caustic snippets of humor to build a proper weltanschauung. Smug and unfocused, THURSDAY is yet another style-obsessed exercise in smarty-pants noir. While it provides a showcase for talented players who know how to pounce on brittle dialogue, it puts them to work in a vacuum. Where Tarantino at his best develops quirky protagonists and then tests them in violent arenas, THURSDAY hypnotizes viewers with trendy brutality and then expects that the desensitized audience won't care about the characters. The film's haphazardly inserted flashbacks and critique of suburban values add up to naught. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, sexual situations, extensive nudity, substance abuse.)