We first meet LA private dick Ned Cruz (Banderas) beaten and bloody and being interrogated by three homicide detectives. It’s clear the detectives have Cruz on squirming on a hook for a serious crime he may or may not have committed.
Cruz tells his story in thick slabs of hard boiled voiceover. It began when he was hired by an ex boxer just to find his missing girlfriend and a stash of stolen conflict diamonds. Things start to get nasty when the people Cruz meets in his investigation start turning up dead. The trail takes stops off at LA porn director (predictably played by Snoop Dogg), pauses at a strip club, and moves into the desert via a waitress who eroticises particle physics, and onto to a reclusive billionaire who has built a particle accelerator under the New Mexico desert and is trying to discover the Higgs boson particle.
This is a highly stylised neo-noir that owes much to Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film Kiss Me Deadly, but filtered through the neon gloss of eighties style thrillers. It’s pretty enough to look at under the supervision of cinematographer Shelly Johnson (who shot Captain America), but director Tony Kranz overdoes every scene with exaggerated camera angles. The screenplay by Erik s could be witty but it’s frankly impossible to tell as Banderas growls his dialogue with such a thick accent it is mostly indecipherable (a real problem as much of the plot is delivered in his voice over).
On the other hand, when the dialogue was audible I rather wished it wasn’t. After one scene in which a Hollywood star’s albino dwarf lover (don’t ask) is blown up, a detective asks Cruz if he knows “the crispy midget”, Cruz replies “he’s astrophysics... his name is Russell. He’s a white dwarf gone supernova”. Never mind sub Chandler, this dialogue is sub Frank Miller.
Beyond his black suit pants, white vest and shoulder holster Banderas’ is a bland off the peg noir cypher. The supporting cast do little better, as the three interrogating cops Fichtner wears a cowboy shirt and acts twitchy, Kretschmann is German, and Delroy Lindo is the nice one. Sam Elliot turns up late in the film and injects some interest solely due to the hysterically poor quality of his hair extensions.
Of interest to indie rock fans will be that fact that the film has a soundtrack by Johnny Marr. Sadly like the film around it, it does little to distinguish itself.
EXTRAS ★★ A standard making-of featurette, some deleted scenes and the trailer.