"A missed conduct."
After producing the first two films in The Grudge series, Shintaro Shimosawa sits on the director’s chair to direct his debut feature called Misconduct. The film is about an ambitious lawyer who finds himself entangled in dangerous conspiracies while litigating a corrupt business tycoon. Despite its celebrated cast, the movie fails to create the necessary tension, ending up just another derivative and forgettable thriller.
Josh Duhamel stars as Ben Cahill, a talented newcomer at a New Orleans-based law firm who badly needs a big break. At home, things are not better as his wife Charlotte (Alice Eve) is mostly absent, spending most of her time working as a registered nurse after she suffered a miscarriage. Ben’s mundane life soon changes when Emily (Malin Akerman), a beautiful ex-girlfriend, friends him through Facebook. They meet but instead of sleeping together, Emily provides him incriminating computer files she took from her lover, a pharmaceutical magnate named Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins) whose latest product caused hundreds of death. Unknown to Ben, his boss Charles Abrams (Al Pacino) harbours a secret dealing with Denning. In his attempt to catch Denning, Ben finds himself in various complications involving a terminally-ill Korean hit man called “The Accountant” (Byung-hun Lee), a feisty security specialist (Julia Stiles), an all-knowing neighbor, and an unfortunate corpse.
Misconduct is designed to be a tight and suffocating legal thriller. There are many conflicting and intriguing ideas. At home, the male lead battles an emotional warfare while at work, he struggles fighting against indomitable forces. Outside these two, there is an enormous temptation that threatens to shake his fragile relationships. On paper, the material could have been a gripping read. But on screen, it is just too dreary, dry, and distracting. It is inadequately written that it fails to sustain interest in its plot. For a thriller movie, it just lacks tension.
The movie tries to create suspense in other ways. There is an initial flashback structuring but it seems unnecessary after all. Camera moves are also showy and scores are overstated. Sometimes they work to bring chills but they simply do not last long. The final twist is jaw-dropping but it does not save the entire film.
Hopkin and Pacino seem underused in the film. Yet, Hopkin’s superciliousness works for his character and Pacino’s intimidating airs serve him right. Duhamel somehow holds his own against the two giants but he still could not be more than just a pretty face. Similarly, Akerman is an overacting beauty while Eve is a saddened baby doll.
Misconduct lives up to its title. There is so much chaos but it generates no feeling of being chaotic.
Production: Lionsgate Premiere, Grindstone Entertainment Group, Film Bridge International, Mike and Marty Production
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung-hun Lee, Julia Stiles, Glen Powell
Director: Shintaro Shimosawa
Screenwriters: Simon Boyes, Adam Mason
Producer: Ellen Wander
Executive producers:Michael T. Covell, Tony Buzbee, Amanda Seward, Darrel Casalino, Chris Brown, Fredrik Zaner, Frank Bonn, Tomas Eskilsson, Eric Brenner, Gary Preisler, Barry Brooker, Stan Wertlieb, Matthew Milam
Director of photography: Michael Fimognari
Production designer: Bernardo Trujillo