Being pretty can only do so much. In the latest Elmore Leonard
book brought to screen, Owen Wilson tries to carry a movie about
pretty people doing naughty things on vacation in Hawaii. His oddly
charming looks and disarming wit serve as inept tools to sustain
interest over 90 minutes that end up seeming like a long, bad
vacation.

Julie Pannuto
I think I see … a nipple. (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Jack Ryan (Wilson), small-time conman, flees to Hawaii in search
of a new life or at least a new place on which to inflict his
schemes. After being fired for breaking the jaw of his foreman in
what turns out to be the film’s best scene, he wanders
aimlessly through Hawaii, never keeping the momentum of this
initial scene. Ryan winds up picking up the loose and inexplicable
pieces of the plot that later come together in one of the most
underwhelming bait-and-switch endings in a heist film.

Following his firing from the construction company, Jack is
welcomed in by the town’s district judge, Walter (Morgan
Freeman) who gives him some work and a place to stay. He then
ambles about with adrenaline-junkie Nancy (impressive newcomer Sara
Foster) who happens to be the mistress for the town’s evil
capitalist, Ray Ritchie (Gary Sinese). Ritchie never comes off
quite as frightening as he should.

Therein lies the fault of the entire movie; nothing has the
meaning or depth behind it to back it up and make you believe in
what is happening. Little things, such as why Jack entrusts a man
he specifically tells he doesn’t trust to finish off a crime
they did together, to larger issues, such as why everyone in the
know ignores the fact that the head villain’s girl is
parading around the island with Ray’s known enemy, remain
unexplained.

Like a bored tourist, the film wanders aimlessly, and the
feeling viewers are left with is one of watching someone
else’s vacation slideshow while receiving none of their
excitement. Toward the end, an attempt is made to reel the audience
back, but twisting endings don’t work if there was no
engagement during the first two acts. It’s obvious that
everyone involved had fun in making this movie, as the locales are
shot beautifully and there is a cool tongue-in-cheek feel that
never quite makes it off the screen.

George Armitage, who directed the underrated “Grosse
Pointe Blank,” can do little to save the film, as there is
just no story to direct. Viewers are better off going to Hawaii and
making their own personal adventure.

Review: 2 out of 5 stars

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *