Movie review of “Misconduct”: This tedious, lazy thriller stars Josh Duhamel as a corrupt attorney whose world blows up when he goes after a crooked billionaire (Anthony Hopkins). Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
“Misconduct” is handicapped from the beginning by an unsympathetic and unlikable central character: an ambitious, corner-cutting attorney, Ben (Josh Duhamel), who does a lot of wrong things for the wrong reasons.
A former public defender, Ben is eager for a big score to ease life for himself and his hardworking wife, Charlotte (Alice Eve), a nurse exhausted from too many double shifts. That doesn’t stop him from cheating on Charlotte with former girlfriend Emily (Malin Akerman), who happens to be the reluctant lover of billionaire pharmaceutical titan Denning (Anthony Hopkins).
When Emily gives Ben stolen files proving Denning is involved in corruption at the firm, Ben sells Abrams (Al Pacino) — a partner in Denning’s company — on launching a civil suit. The fallout is instant: Emily disappears, the cops go after Ben and the case against Denning collapses. All hell breaks loose.
Movie Review ★½
‘Misconduct,’ with Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Julia Stiles, Byung-hun Lee. Directed by Shintaro Shimosawa, from a screenplay by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason. 106 minutes. Rated R for violence, language and sexuality. Varsity.
The danger with letting a thriller descend into complete chaos is opening the door to arbitrary decisions. The weirdest one in “Misconduct” is a roving hit man (Byung-hun Lee) rapidly dying from some ailment yet out there breaking kneecaps.
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He seems to have wandered in from some other movie, while Ben — on the lam with a handgun — sinks ever further into amorality, at one point pressing Charlotte to consider committing a convenient murder.
If “Misconduct” were a good adaptation of one of Jim Thompson’s harrowing crime-fiction novels (“The Killer Inside Me”), there would be tonal justification in the film — a pervasive madness swallowing reality — that would provide context for Ben’s descent.
But the screenwriters and director Shintaro Shimosawa aren’t that rigorous, opting instead for a lazy resolution one can see coming and a twist ending cribbed from a well-known 1990 legal thriller. The only mystery here is what drew Hopkins and Pacino to this tedious project.