An unfussy actor turned unfussy director, Clint Eastwood has a reputation for moving things along. He won't shoot a scene 99 times; he won't futz around with the camera. The results are mature and relaxed: well-acted entertainments like Unforgiven, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby, movies that feel like oases in a desert of overstylized Hollywood hysteria.
All of which makes Eastwood exactly the wrong guy to craft a supernatural thriller like Hereafter. It's his first film to turn his virtues into weaknesses---an undercooked slice of paranormal mumbo jumbo with the genes of an M. Night Shyamalan chin-scratcher but the execution of a diffident nonbeliever. What was Clint thinking? (Or Martin Scorsese, when he made Shutter Island, for that matter.) He starts off his latest with a massive CGI tsunami---just shy of realistic---taken straight out of the Roland Emmerich playbook. A tropical resort is flattened; awkwardly, we pick out waterlogged French journalist Marie (De France) as one of our heroes, while stateside, the haunted, Dead Zone--ish George (a humorless Damon) refuses to do his psychic readings.
Let's quickly mention the creepy London teen twins sharing a telepathic bond, just so you know you'll be following three unrelated plot strands (destined for mystical melding) that feel like Brian De Palma's leftovers circa 1978. Only when taciturn George finds himself at, of all places, an Italian cooking class led by an exuberant Batali type (The Sopranos' Steve Schirripa) does the story briefly perk up. A female partner is flirted with, then the movie suddenly loses interest. You will too.
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