While packed with potential, Misconduct ultimately misses the mark presenting a muddled story and disingenuous cast chemistry; A movie which may further tarnish the once pristine prestige of Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins.
Josh Duhamel plays Ben, an ambitious, morally ambivalent attorney practicing under Pacino’s bayou-born powerhouse firm founder named Abrams. Ben is leading what on the surface seems to be a honest hard-working life, but beneath the daily grind there is Misconduct. The moment Ben pensively accepts a friend request from a college girlfriend Emily (Malin Akerman) who claims to have dirt on a major Pharma CEO (Anthony Hopkins), he’s quickly sucked into a twisted game of infidelity, corruption, kidnapping and murder. The true misconduct here is the squandering of such great talent.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, Etc.) – 2
On paper this film has it all. It boasts a cast of A-Listers topped by the American cinema treasures Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins. It ensures initial intrigue with a catchy concept with potential for guilty indulgence into corruption, sex, violence, and climactic twists and turns.
In reality, Misconduct is anything but that. It seemed more like a film abstractly constructed from the first take of cold reads versus the meticulous development befitting a complex legal drama. Basically, the film felt cheaply disingenuous. Story wise, the film plays out like four really good ideas struggling to take center stage rather than come together for a harmonious conclusion.
Is it an art film or action film? It seems that throughout the filming process director Shintaro Shimosawa went through peaks and valleys of inspiration in what is obviously his very first feature film. Shimosawa’s greenness allows for tonal imbalance going from extremely artful to hyper generic, never clearly defining itself thematically or plot-wise. This was perhaps exacerbated by the overload of superfluous characters.
If you have read my reviews in the past, then you know that it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when films introduce a character only to abandon them, leaving their story unfulfilled. I am a firm believer in the mentality that whatever is on screen has a purpose. Why plague precious runtime designed for crafting a complete story with pointless inserts? Misconduct is one of those movies. One example is Julia Stiles’ intriguingly bad@ss private security coordinator who is heavy in the 1st act then completely forgotten. Infuriating.
This all on-top of the fact that Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins are totally wasted. How does one land two timeless Academy Award winning talents and then relegate them to one-dimensional and run-of-the-mill characters. I was waiting for Pacino to ask someone for a Mint Julep he was so stereotypically southern.
The chemistry between Malin Akerman and Josh Duhamel is absolute zero! I mean a real hard goose egg. While Misconduct may miss the mark on many fronts, it definitely is on target in delivering one of the most bizarre, mechanical and unbelievably unbelievable (yes I said unbelievable twice… now thrice) sex scenes I have seen in a long time. I mean really really bad. There was a lot of aggressive movements, slapping and grunting and it was weird. Not good, just weird.
Alice Eve was perhaps one of the most bizarre elements in the film. It was really sad to see someone who has had such a strong on-screen presence in the past be so shallow and underwhelming. Come to think of it, everyone was extremely subdued. It makes me think the director was trying to achieve tones that worked for his past horror film but was a terrible misstep for this legal thriller.
Entertainment Value – 2
In a lot of ways, a viewer’s appreciation of a film comes from a film’s ability to not only connect with the audience but to resolve and tie-off any lingering loose threads created for the viewer to tug. Instead of weaving these reveals the film sees a forced climax followed by a montage of all the surprise reveals carelessly cut together, another glaring example of Shimosawa’s laziness. The first fifteen minutes or so of the movie were epic. After that it was all down hill.
The film is undoubtedly dialogue and emotion driven, albeit at times poorly done. While some films succeed with the right combination of banter and talent, Misconduct is painfully boring at times and distractingly awkward at others. There are random injections of violence that, while clunky fitting in, would have been much more effective in a slimmer and better developed story.
A lot of the boring quality comes from the extra moments, and characters that ultimately had no bearing on the film. It was almost like a cheap way to hide the true plot line, even though the plot was already too complex for its own good.
Re-Watchability – 2
Probably Definitely not. The film was boring, cliche, un-inspired and ultimately pointless. With that said, a few moments stand out for the pure film lover, but not enough to merit a re-watch or even a recommendation.
Watch the official trailer for <em>Misconduct</em> below.
Lionsgate Premiere and Grindstone Entertainment Group present in association with Film Bridge International, a Mike and Marty production.
Directed by: Shintaro Shimosawa
Written by: Simon Boyes & Adam Mason
Produced by: Ellen Wander
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung-hun Lee, Julia Stiles, Glen Powell, with Academy Award Winner® Al Pacino and Academy Award® Winner Anthony Hopkins
- Entertainment Value
On paper this film has it all. It boasts a cast of A-Listers topped by the American cinema treasures Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins. In reality, Misconduct is anything but that. The film was boring, cliche, un-inspired and ultimately pointless. With that said, a few moments stand out for a pure film lover, but not enough to merit a re-watch or even a recommendation. The true 'misconduct' here is the squandering of such great talent.