Raymond Chandler’s well-known hard-boiled detective will get an replace in Neil Jordan’s “Marlowe.” Moving into the sneakers that Humphrey Bogart and Elliot Gould made well-known, Liam Neeson’s one hundredth characteristic movie suggests, maybe, the weary actor needn’t be so prolific. An adaptation of John Banville’s “The Black Eyed Blonde,” the movie “Marlowe” — like its perfunctory title suggests — is solely going via the motions, adopting its protagonist’s torpid disposition. Whereas the movie marks a reunion between Jordan and Neeson — after “Michael Collins” and, much less efficiently, “Breakfast on Pluto” — the movie can also be a low level within the Oscar-winning director’s profession.
READ MORE: ‘Marlowe’ Trailer: Liam Neeson Stars In His one hundredth Film From ‘The Crying Sport’ Director Neil Jordan
Gone are the campy thrills of Jordan’s beforehand batshit “Greta,” which was nonsensical however at the very least bizarre sufficient to be extremely entertaining. Right here, Jordan looks like an odd match, because the heightened dialogue and self-conscious type appear exterior of the wheelhouse of a director who’s achieved his finest work when he’s exploring the fantastical. As a substitute, the movie is swallowed by the kind of serpentine plot that’s trademarked for the style.
However, whereas anybody who has seen “The Huge Sleep” and “The Lengthy Goodbye” couldn’t care much less concerning the convoluted tales that propel them, “Marlowe” is seemingly solely keen on unpacking its dense narrative. Scripted by William Monahan, “Marlowe” begins with Clare Cavendish (Diane Kruger) hiring Marlowe to trace down her ex-lover Nico Peterson.
Presumed useless from a automobile accident, all the pieces is clear now what it appears as Marlowe’s investigation extends into the underbelly of Hollywood, as he works alongside two cops (Colm Meaney and Ian Hart) to uncover a conspiracy that features an American ambassador (Mitchell Mullen), a Hollywood govt (Danny Huston), and a seedy nightclub proprietor (Alan Cumming). How these characters work together and what Cavendish truly needs from Peterson isn’t too shocking, given the style we’re in. However, the movie hinges on Neeson’s grumbly detective lurching from scene to scene and character to character.
It’s odd for a movie titled after its protagonist to be so disinterested in his motivations. Why he takes the case and even how he feels about Cavendish is simply given the barest of explanations. As a substitute, Neeson’s Marlowe is basically a clean slate. He’s so dedicated to fixing the case as a result of, nicely, the script calls for it. Save for a number of references to Neeson’s age and an odd flirtation between him and Kruger’s character; this Marlowe might’ve been performed by anybody. Which means that the movie lives or dies with its supporting characters.
Whereas Kruger adapts nicely to the femme fatale function, she can also be mirroring Neeson’s lack of charisma. The identical goes for Danny Huston, who might play a menacing Hollywood mogul in his sleep. If there’s an MVP, it’s Cumming. Adopting an exaggerated southern drawl, he’s mainly teleported in from a distinct movie, one which at the very least has some self-awareness. The identical goes for Jessica Lange, who makes probably the most of her jiffy of screentime as Cavendish’s mom.
Jordan additionally makes the odd resolution to shoot Barcelona for Thirties LA, which ought to ostensibly give the movie an old-world vibe however, as an alternative, makes all the pieces look a bit off. This sense isn’t helped by Xavi Giménez’s mushy cinematography, which options the inventory photographs related to noir — be careful for a neon signal mirrored in a pool of water. The identical goes for David Holmes’s forgettable rating.
“Marlowe” isn’t the disaster that others could make it out to be, but it surely’s as an alternative simply inert, forgettable instantly after the credit roll. Jordan looks like he’s going via the motions, bored with bringing any persona to the style. De Palma’s languid “The Black Dahlia” involves thoughts; one other misguided try at pastiche from a as soon as lauded director. Neeson’s latest output has, on the very least, recommended a dedication to style workout routines, making it all of the more unusual that this one simply barely raises above a resting coronary heart fee even when the bullets begin flying. [C-]
“Marlowe” hits theaters through Open Street on February 15, 2023.