R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Greg Marcks
with Hilary Swank, Shawn Hatosy, Rachael Leigh Cook, Ben Foster, Henry Thomas, Colin Hanks, Patrick Swayze, Barbara Hershey, Stark Sands, Blake Heron, Clark Gregg, Jason Segel
release US 12.Aug.05, UK 14.Jul.06
05/US Lionsgate 1h26

Just shoot me: Hatosy and Swank

cook foster thomas hanks swayze hershey


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11:14 Fast and fairly engaging, this blackly comic thriller looks at a fateful moment in time from five intriguing perspectives. But in the end it feels a bit pointless.

1: A man (Thomas) is driving home when a dead body falls from a bridge and hits his car. 2: Three guys (Foster, Hanks and Sands) are joy-riding when they hit a girl in the road. But that's not the worst thing that happens. 3: A man (Swayze) trying to find his daughter stumbles across a body in a cemetery. 4: A guy (Hatosy) will do anything, including robbing a friend (Swank), to get money for his girlfriend's abortion. 5: A girl (Cook) tries to con a second boyfriend (Heron) out of some money.

With the titular time as the pivotal junction, there's a fatalism to each plot that makes them quite compelling. We know something horrible will happen at the designated hour. And as the script weaves in each character's story, the picture gets increasingly clear. But that's about it; besides commenting on intertwined lives, nothing carries much resonance. These are all fairly shallow people who callously break the law for both good and bad reasons.

There isn't a weak performance--these are recognisable people floundering in ludicrous situations that put life and death in the balance. Swank is especially good as the trashy shop clerk who reluctantly goes along with her friend's idiotic plan. Cook is also good as the person who emerges as the film's central thread, but her tale comes last, which is too late to draw us in. In the end, without a sense of depth or meaning, it feels repetitive and dull.

Writer-director Marcks gleefully stirs in lots of grisly, morbid irony, but he also indulges in corny plotting and improbable coincidences. Essentially this is an exercise in clever writing, editing and direction. It owes quite a bit to Amores Perros, but never captures any of that film's urgency. The darkly comical tone makes it thoroughly entertaining, and the crisp, edgy pacing keeps us gripped to the various individual odysseys. But it disappears with a shrug when it ends.

cert 15 themes, violence, language, sexuality 25.May.06

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall