I’m not sure what to say about this pretentious, explicitly Freudian crime drama (when I say “pretentious” I mean “opens-by-quoting-Julius-Caesar-and-chess-theory” and when I say “explicitly Freudian,” I mean “ends-with-actual-psychoanalyst-types-lecturing-the-audience”) except that it’s one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. Divorced from his usual ass-kicking context, Jason Statham loses most of his star appeal, and Ray Liotta has a gamely unhinged presence here that functions as a welcome distraction from his tedious narrative surroundings rather than an actual performance.
The story works on two levels. On one, it’s a bunch of generic hoo-hah about a casino owner (Liotta), a conman with a grudge (Statham), and a couple of mysterious thugs (Vincent Pastore and André Benjamin). On another, it’s a breathtakingly silly melodrama about the internal tensions between the ego and the id. Liotta and Statham’s high-decibel dramatizations of that conflict, seen in close-up and among quick edits — obviously devised as showpiece segments — are especially headache-inducing. Only a subplot involving a minor character, the stoic assassin Sorter (Mark Strong), who is eventually seen resolving his own internal tensions in spectacular, stylishly violent fashion, succeeds by at least delivering a gratuitous thrill. Otherwise, it’s an embarrassing failure.