smokinrating-4.0While some might chastise this movie for its minor flaws, its stylization, its scattered and less-than-believable plot, I enjoyed it very much.

First off, if you're at all familiar with the trailers and TV spots for this movie, you may believe it to be a Richie-esque crime romp, full of humorous and violent amoral behavior and wacky antics. But it's not that movie, as much as they'd like it to be. That movie would surely sell better. This movie is a much darker and more bleak film than most viewers went into the movie imagining. Much more in line with elements of Narc, this movie has a dark and unhappy line down its center.

The basic plotline of a snitch magician being hunted by hit men and skip tracers for a million dollar bounty is unscored by an older tale of an undercover FBI agent, but to tell you more would ruin the plot. Everyone should be familiar with the basic premise from the TV ads, though they'll undoubtedly be somewhat surprised to find that Jeremy Piven's magician is so much more dark and sympathetic than imagined and his performance shows more emotional range than he's ever been allowed in his career. Ryan Reynolds shares in the emotional burden of the movie, being the lynchpin that holds the film together. The rest of the cast is an array of vastly different archetypes, all playing their part in the main premise of the film, though all that is window dressing on a seemingly more simple tale, but all of the sturm and drang of the film is required to give its climax an emotional context, despite its lack of visceral finality.

That sound and fury of the movie is highly entertaining, though it lacks an obvious and fulfilling conclusion, instead leaving you desiring another hour of carnage and mayhem and the vindication of a violent demise for everyone requiring comeuppance. But what there is a blast, interspersed with compelling and saddening performances, as well as shockingly clipped cameos by big names, as well as the mandatory action and blood.

The movie turns out to be no Narc, but possesses more promise than most movies to churn through the grist mill of Hollywood in some time. Its twists and turns may not all be genius, but the movie does possess a perverse beauty and charm unmatched by most of its contemporaries. More movies should be this imperfect.

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