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An elaborate piece of narrative hocus-pocus, this mystery thriller benefits from a strong cast (Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci) and some of the best 70s-kitsch set decoration since Boogie Nights. Josh Hartnett plays one of those noir heroes damned to deliver the screenwriter's wisecracks even though they keep getting him slugged; he's mistaken for his missing friend, a degenerate gambler, and gets sucked into a feud between rival crime lords (Freeman and Kingsley). Lucy Liu is his sassy love interest, and their scenes together are excruciating. With its diabolical ending, this is the movie equivalent of a crossword puzzle: fun, clever, and disposable. Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park) directed a script by Jason Smilovic. R, 110 min.

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