Misconduct review

When ambitious lawyer Ben Cahill (Josh Duhamel) is seduced by his ex-girlfriend Emily (Malin Akerman) and presented with evidence that could incriminate her boss and lover Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins), a pharmaceutical magnate. Cahill finds himself stuck in a power struggle between his boss Charles Abrams (Al Pacino) and Denning. The case takes a deadly turn and Cahill must uncover the truth before he loses everything that is special to him.

Misconduct is a legal thriller that is set in the shadows – and by that I mean that the majority of the cinematography has cast members in silhouette, as if to imply that there is something lurking in the shadows. Which is clearly not the case, it’s simply poor cinematography. There is no sinister underbelly to this film, it’s a by-the-numbers thriller that is just woeful. The script is littered with clichéd moments, and the twists are so predictable that you can see them coming a mile away. Secondary storylines are started and never finished. The characters are embarrassingly undercooked and lightweight. You know you are in for a bad time within 10 minutes, when this line of dialogue is spoken: “I want you to stay as calm as ice.” Talk about mixing your metaphors, and therein lies the biggest problem with Misconduct: it wants to mix up so many different ideas that by the end of the blend it comes out as a plain double-cross thriller that has been done a million times better.

The star power is heavy in Misconduct. Hopkins continues to use Hannibal Lecter as inspiration for his work. He walks and stalks dressed in the sharpest suits. He speaks in slow rhythms, but there is no meat to his character. Sitting/standing and looking intense is not acting, it is simply being there. That role needs more energy, and a lot more evil. Duhamel does what little he can to make a harangued lawyer interesting, but he comes a cropper with a script that offers no intrigue. Seduction and confusion appear to be his only options. Once again, it’s a lightweight character that needs to be better fleshed out. Pacino doesn’t have that problem as he is on screen for less than 30 minutes. His character is a secondary one, but he still manages to, rather cheekil, steal the finale by use of a gun and some classic Shakespearen lines. It's not what you’d expect, but it is the one shining moment in the film. Also, there is no typical Pacino bellowing –is he getting soft in his old age? Or is he deciding to properly act again?

Imagine The Devil’s Advocate without the devil in the detail and that’s what Misconduct is – an advocate. However, an avocado would be a better description for it as, much like the fruit, it looks like it could be a bit special and then you have a taste and it turns out that it has nothing to offer and you end up throwing it in the bin.

Mark Searby is a Screenjabber contributor

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