Sunday, May 6, 2007

Home Video: The Minus Man

The Minus Man
Directed by Hampton Fancher
Released October 8, 1999

Owen Wilson stars as Vann, a calm and polite drifter who kills people that seem ready to die by poisoning them and hiding their bodies. He settles down for a bit and moves in with a friendly but unhappy couple, and takes a job as a postal office worker, all the while taking more lives while wrestling with inner voices, including two imaginary cops on his trail.

An extremely intriguing premise does not go far in this unexciting and truthfully uneventful film (I cannot in good conscience call it a thriller, because it is simply not interesting enough). The film drags unbelievably, and thinks far too much of itself in the way that the director composes and blocks some of the scenes. None of the characters are compelling enough to care about, and as a result, the plot fades quickly into oblivion (as presumably did the film, which I had only ever heard about after seeing a preview before some equally obscure movie on DVD).

Owen Wilson could have been the right choice to play Vann, but he is too wishy-washy and grinny to be a serial killer, in what is supposed to be a meditative, artistic film. Janeane Garofalo does well as Ferrin, his unsuspecting sort-of-girlfriend, but it would be nice to see her come out of her shell a bit and play a more dynamic character. Dennis Haysbert stands out in a pre-"24" performance as one of Vann's imaginary pursuer cops, a chance for him to play a role like the one Mark Wahlberg got an Oscar nomination for in "The Departed" (of course, the latter role is far better-written). Brian Cox hands-down gives the best performance in the film, as Vann's landlord, and he demonstrates a willingness and ability to go beyond the script and hand in a masterful and enjoyable performance in a deeply sub-par film.

D -

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