Patrick Wilson and Ian McShane bring dimension to this pulp entry, which lacks vision but offers fresh thinking and devotion to the crime genre. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.

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A highly stylized pulp shocker where explosive violence and banality are barely checked by strained moral codes, “The Hollow Point” reaches for a large vision of human duality (think Jim Thompson novels or Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil”) and falls short.

But the feverish drama has good things to show for its ambition in brutal moments, hard-boiled dialogue and, especially, in the chiaroscuro hearts of its compromised characters. Screenwriter Nils Lyew and director Gonzalo Lopéz-Gallego (“Open Grave”) show the seams in their derivative knowledge of delirious crime dramas. But they’re rarely predictable, peeling away viewer assumptions about ethics, motivations and love.

Movie Review ★★½  

‘The Hollow Point,’ with Patrick Wilson, Ian McShane, Lynn Collins, John Leguizamo, Jim Belushi, Karli Hall. Directed by Gonzalo Lopéz-Gallego, from a screenplay by Nils Lyew. 97 minutes. Rated R for violence and language. Sundance Cinemas (21+).

Patrick Wilson stars as Wallace, a sheriff dragging his past to an Arizona border town, where smugglers run ammunition to a Mexican cartel. His predecessor — an older, bombastic, law-unto-himself type named Leland (played with Shakespearean dimension by Ian McShane) — is on the skids but still has a gasping, moral engine beneath the ruins.

Wallace’s former wife (Lynn Collins), along with a corrupt car salesman (Jim Belushi) and an unnervingly weird religious fanatic (Karli Hall), are all unpredictably ambiguous figures in a growing mystery. A fascinating butcher of a villain (John Leguizamo) reveals shards of unexpected humanity.

Within this uncertain world, Lopéz-Gallego relishes such noir staples as fatalistic shadows, eruptive mayhem and terse, ironic dialogue. But he and his cinematographer, Jose David Montero, also carve out fresh visual territory, such as a breathtaking overhead shot of vehicles diverging on a rural road, and a stunning scene of existential angst involving a trapped man covered by bags of cement and a running hose.

“The Hollow Point” might not reach the hallucinatory heights of a Joel and Ethan Coen thriller (“Blood Simple”), but there’s much to admire.