Don’t go and watch Misconduct. Please. I beg of you.
I was lucky to be provided with a screener, which meant that I could view it from the comfort of my home. But if I’d gone through the effort of putting on shoes, leaving my house, trudging down to my local cinema, spending my hard-earned cash as well as two hours of my time sitting through this derivative, convoluted drudgery, then I’d probably be outside Al Pacino’s house right now asking for my money back.
Speaking of Al. How did it come to this? In the same way that his good friend Bobby D continues to piss on his legacy by starring in comedies that are so far beneath him they belong under Satan’s fingernails, Al Pacino repeatedly appears in drivel. And not weird drivel that at least aims to be outlandish but fails miserably. Tedious drivel that you instantly forget and don’t even bother mentioning to your pals.
It’s apparent from the off that Misconduct is going to be that cruel mix of hackneyed and torturous. Even the great Sir Anthony Hopkins sullies his name by taking the role of Denning, a corrupt pharmaceutical executive, who is indicted by Josh Duhamel’s Ben, an ambitious lawyer trying to impress Pacino’s Abrams, a partner at the firm.
But Malin Akerman’s Emily, Ben’s old college girlfriend and Denning’s current fiancée, soon gets caught in the middle, which leads to kidnapping and murder, but unfortunately not to you actually giving a shit.
Mostly because all of the characters are either unlikeable, boring, or unlikeably boring. Plus, they all make stupid decisions that will have you screaming at the screen in frustration. Actually, you’ll just condescendingly laugh at it with as little effort as possible. Because in order to scream, you’d have to care. And you won’t.
One early scene that is indicative of just how lacking Misconduct is in pretty much every way sees Anthony Hopkins bashing away on his iPhone like he doesn’t know how to use it. It’s only a minor detail. But it speaks volumes that Misconduct was even unable to even get over this ever so minor hump. In Misconduct’s most banal periods, I’d go back to that moment for warmth. Did director Shintaro Shimosawa make Sir Anthony Hopkins act out this scene six or seven times, and this was the best attempt? Had Sir Anthony Hopkins ever used an iPhone before this moment? Or was he actually just typing away furiously to his agent asking how he’d got himself involved in such a tired, snail paced want-to-be thriller? I imagine it’s a mixture of all three.
What makes Misconduct all the more painful to watch is that it tries so hard to be taken seriously. Sure, it possesses the acting talent to do just that, but when the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, and even Josh Duhamel (who, fair play to him, really does give it his all in the leading role) are left languishing in an abyss of clichéd nonsense, it just highlights how awful the lumbering script and tepid direction is.
You can sense Misconduct pleading to be liked, through it’s attempted use of long shots, peculiar angles, and even its mise-en-scene. It’s uncomfortable. Like watching a 15-year-old boy trying to win the heart of 17-year-old girl by dancing in front of the whole school. But at least that would be worth talking about. Misconduct simply isn’t. And that’s why I’m going to stop right now.