The underlying structural basis of this film is a
dry legal procedural. Our hero is a young lawyer who's so green that
he's never questioned a witness before. He has a remarkable success in
his first try, however, so he gets assigned to a big-league case, a
multi-billion dollar lawsuit against a major corporation in which he
will be on the corporation's defense team. The case itself doesn't
involve all that much drama. In fact, the major legal issue hinges on
a technical point of law, whether a key employee was dishonest or
incompetent. If he was dishonest, the corporation itself was the
victim, and is not liable. If he was incompetent, the corporation is
legally liable and loses the case.
Yawn. Argumentation about technicalities have
never made for a great spectator sport. I was on the debate team in
high school and college, and I noticed that we never had any
cheerleaders at our tournaments.
In order to give the case a bit of color, the
writer/director made the defense team's key witness a junkie, and
therefore unstable, undependable, and in need of constant supervision.
You're still bored? Well, then, the young defense attorney falls in
love with her and, oh yeah, she's also the estranged wife of the
world's biggest crime boss, who doesn't want her to testify. Talk
about stretching the concept of "economy of characters." If she had
also been the opposing attorney they could have done a two-character
play like Sleuth.
I suppose the author thought the material was still
too colorless, so he added some bizarre background elements like a
yard full of glow-in-the dark swordfish carcasses. He also made the
corporation's CEO an ex-general who wears an eyepatch and wields a
samurai sword in his office. When the general first sees how young his
attorney is, he says "welcome to the warrior class" and gives the lad
his own super-sharp sword. Considering the principle of scriptwriting
economy, I'll bet you can guess how the mob boss will meet his death.
By attempting to gussy up a too-dry legal case, the
author went overboard and made the whole thing just plain silly. You
can do this kind of thing and make a fun movie if you go all the way
with it and take it over-the-top, ala Luc Besson, but this film held
back from that commitment and tried to stay in touch with reality. In
so doing, it ended up like an Oxygen Network version of a Tarantino
film, filled the best-scrubbed, best-behaved junkies, hookers, and
mobsters ever seen on film.
The film was lensed three years ago before its
release, and the investors held out some hope of a theatrical release
based on the possible emergent stardom of the lead, Anson Mount, who
is a very handsome guy and very likeable on camera. Mount's star
status never arrived, so the film languished in limbo until finally
going straight to DVD, which is the fate it deserved based on its