(director: Tim Kirkby; screenwriter: based on the novel and screenplay by Howard Michael Goild; cinematographer: Lyle Vincent; editor: Joe Landauer; music: Peter Nashel; cast: Charlie Hunnam (Charlie Waldo), Mel Gibson (Alistair Pinch), Lucy Fry (Jane White), Morena Baccarin (Lorena Nascimento), Clancy Brown (Big Jim Cuppy), Method Man (Swag Doggg), Rupert Friend (Wilson Sikorsky), David Pasquesi (Darius Jamshidi), Robin Givens (Fontella Davis), Dominic Monaghan (Warren Gomes), Sophie Fatu (Gaby Pinch), Deacon Randle (Nini), Jacob Scipio (Don Q); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Brad Feinstein, Andrew Lazar, Steven Shainberg, Christina Weiss Lurie: RLJE Films/Head Gear Films; 2021)

Never seems to be on the level about what it’s up to with its viewers.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tim Kirkby (“Action Point”) directs an LA based comical neo-noir whodunit, a B-film that’s a mess but has some funny moments. It’s scripted by Howard Michael Goild from his 2018 novel.

The disgruntled, bearded, Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam) is an ex-cop, retired from the LAPD. He’s in self-imposed exile after solving a high-profile case and falling into disgrace. He left L.A, to live in a trailer (that has written on its side: DON’T WANT. DON’T ACQUIRE) by a creek atop a mountain on the outskirts of L.A, and has lived there for some time as an ascetic. He gets a surprise visit from his former girlfriend, Lorena (Morena Baccarin). a private investigator, who asks him to be part of her team looking into the death of the wife of a famous TV star, who resembles Colonel Sanders and speaks with a pretentious British accent, named Alastair Pinch (Mel Gibson). He has been arrested for the crime, and Lorena has been hired to get evidence to clear him. If he joins the team Waldo maybe can get personal redemption, or clear up old grievances, or he takes it only because he’s ornery. The $2,000 fee for his services, he wishes to donate to charity.

In his investigation, Waldo travels by bike. He meets a number of strange folks, most tied to the TV industry such as: Wilson Sikorsky (Rupert Friend), the chatty head of a television network; Fontella Davis (Robin Givens), Pinch’s famous lawyer; and, of course, the prime suspect Pinch, who, on his visit, beats up a crew member for gives himing a dirty look. Pinch’s alibi is that he was inebriated when his wife was murdered. Others investigated include a very funny gangster named Don Q (Jacob Scipio), his “heavy” (Deacon Randle), a rapper seen on the Internet named Swag Doggg (Method Man), and there’s Jayne White (Lucy Fry), the kindergarten teacher of Pinch’s child, who Waldo takes to bed.

The news that Waldo might join Pinch’s defense team has reached some Black and Latino thugs, who invade Waldo’s place and beat the crap out of him.

Kirby directs with a kinky edge, using edgy music and racial slurs as part of the narrative. But the film is not enjoyable because the plot is incoherent, it’s odd but still bland, the shocking humor lacks wit, eccentric characters appear and just fade out to never be heard from again, its 2 hour length is too long and the film never seems to be on the level about what it’s up to with its viewers.

REVIEWED ON 2/14/2022  GRADE:  C+