VOD film review: Misconduct
Matthew Turner | On 03, Jun 2016
Director: Shintaro Shimosawa
Stars: Josh Duhamel, Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung-hun Lee, Julia Stiles, Glen Powell
Watch Misconduct online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
The publicity for Misconduct may trumpet the participation of former acting heavyweights Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins (together at last), but if you decide to watch the film on that basis, you’ll emerge feeling somewhat short-changed, as they’re only in it for around four of five scenes each and only appear onscreen together once. A more accurate description of the film would be that it’s a vehicle for good-looking TV actor Josh Duhamel, but even Duhamel’s fan base will find their loyalties tested with this dismal nonsense.
The film begins promisingly: Hopkins plays Denning, the corrupt CEO of a pharmaceutical company, whose latest clinical trials have caused hundreds of deaths. Pacino plays Abrams, the head of a law firm with his sights firmly set on Denning, so when ambitious lawyer Ben Cahill (Duhamel) comes to him with damning evidence, he’s practically frothing at the mouth to begin prosecution proceedings. However, Cahill has acquired his evidence through less-than-legal means, following a liaison with his former girlfriend, Emily (Malin Akerman), who just happens to be Denning’s disgruntled girlfriend.
Things quickly go off the rails: Emily gets embroiled in a suspiciously fake-looking kidnap situation, prompting the involvement of a tough-talking police negotiator (Julia Stiles), whose advice Denning ignores at every turn, almost like he wants his girlfriend to get killed. Meanwhile, an urbane, cancer-stricken hitman, known as The Accountant (Byung-hun Lee), begins stalking Ben for some reason, while Ben’s wife, Charlotte (Alice Eve), becomes increasingly suspicious about her husband’s connection to Emily.
There’s so much that’s wrong with the aptly-named Misconduct that it’s difficult to know where to start. For one thing, the script is all over the place, careering wildly from scene to scene with scant regard for things like plot, structure or basic coherence. The inept editing doesn’t help matters – indeed, there seem to be whole sequences missing, notably during a cut from Ben standing on the pavement looking at one character to Ben suddenly waking up on the floor of a church, having been knocked out.
There are, admittedly, some laughably stupid moments that almost push this into so-bad-its-good territory. Chief among these is a scene where Ben cuts himself open from groin to chest, while escaping out of a window, and then superglues himself back together after a visit to the supermarket. The dialogue is similarly dreadful – at one point, Charlotte (a nurse) describes a character who is still alive as having been “massacred”. She also remarks “I didn’t know that was your type” when she first sees Akerman’s character… despite being the exact same type (unless she meant something other than pretty blonde, but if that’s the case, the script doesn’t elaborate).
Director Shimosawa (the producer of the US version of The Grudge, making his directorial debut) occasionally tries to enliven things with some weird camera moves, such as a 180-degree rotation during a key fight scene that makes it look as if a character in the background is defying gravity, but the flourishes only serve to make scenes more irritating than they already are. In addition, the pacing is positively somnambulant in places, with the characters often taking ages to deliver their lines.
The result almost feels as if the film deliberately decided to include an example of every different type of bad acting, from Hopkins’ barely-putting-the-effort-in CEO (key character trait: condescension) and Shouty Al’s woeful hamming, complete with atrocious Southern accent (“Yawww admittin’ fawwwlt?”) to Duhamel’s charisma-free blankness and Alice Eve’s weirdly trance-like line-readings, as if she’d taken several dozen sedatives before each take.
By the time the film gets round to revealing its increasingly ridiculous twists, you’ll have long since ceased to care.
Misconduct is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.