It won’t take long for most people to decide whether they can stomach the exuberance of Jude Law’s overeager turn as a hyperactive ex-con in this stylized, violent comedy about an institutionalized hard case hitting the streets after 12 years. The confrontational opening scene (hint: Law has his pants down) is likely to catapult viewers to different sides of the taste divide as well. Law is Dom Hemingway: safecracker, absent father, loyal friend to fellow criminal Dickie (Richard E. Grant, campy in a world-weary way) and former accomplice of kingpin Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), whose bacon he’s saved by not ratting him out. Now Dom wants his reward, so he and Dickie head to Fontaine’s French villa for some payback.
The idea of Dom keeping quiet about anything is hard to buy: He’s a one-man megaphone, constantly spouting filthy sub–Harold Pinter lingo. The dialogue works for a while, since all of Dom Hemingway, sets and costumes included, is heightened. But the film loses any real sense of purpose too early, and the tone starts to seriously wobble. Later attempts to mine sentiment are awkward, and there are only so many scenes anyone can take of Law (still not suited to middle age) strutting down the street shooting his mouth off. If it were all in service of a smart story, we’d say, “So be it.” But it isn’t.
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