“Misconduct”

Susan Granger’s review of “Misconduct” (Lionsgate Premiere)

 

Why would a neo-noir legal thriller, starring Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino, wind up on VOD, instead of in theaters? Because it’s inexcusably awful!

Set in New Orleans, the plot revolves around Ben Cahill (Josh Duhamel), an ambitious young lawyer working on a class-action involving Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins), a smugly corrupt Big Pharma kingpin.

Ben’s wife Charlotte (Alice Eve) is a registered nurse who has become a workaholic to cloak her depression after her recent miscarriage.

Suddenly, Ben’s seductive ex-girlfriend Emily (Malin Akerman) contacts him, telling him she’s got incriminating computer files that will indict Denning, who just happens to be her current lover.

But when ethically-challenged Ben takes the evidence to his firm’s senior partner, Charles Abrams (Al Pacino), Emily is mysteriously kidnapped.

After that, not much is coherent. There’s Denning’s forthright security specialist (Julia Stiles) and a terminally ill South Korean hit-man (Byung-hun Lee), careening around on a motorbike.

If screenwriters Simon Boyes and Adam Mason came up with anything original, it eluded me, while debuting feature-film director Shintaro Shimosawa (co-producer of “The Grudge” and its sequel) discards logical progression and pacing in favor of curious camera angles devised by cinematographer Michael Fimognari. He particularly favors focusing on one character’s reaction to what’s being said by someone else; it’s a distracting film-school device that quickly becomes tedious.

While Josh Duhamel does his best with the melodramatic absurdity, it’s obvious that both Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino simply cashed their paychecks and moved on to more promising projects.

As for Malin Akerman, her coldly calculated performance seems to be streamed directly from her role as scheming Lara Axelrod on TV’s “Billions.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Misconduct” is a misbegotten 2. It’s an $11 million mistake.

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