The Underneath

Bomb Rating: 

With the lack of decent writing in Hollywood these days it's not hard to imagine director Steven Soderbergh getting a hold of this script and then saying to some producer: "Well, it's not a great story, but maybe if we splice it together in a funny way it will turn into a good story."

Then again, maybe not. The "story" jumps around in time, showing us Michael (Peter Gallagher) as a gambling, low-life jerk in the past and then Michael as a reformed gambling, low-life jerk in the present. To make it clear where we are in time, Michael is outfitted with a beard in the past but not in the present. Also, in the present, a little reminder of what time it is flashes up on the screen. At first, this almost gave me a heart attack, because at first "12:10" flashed and then "6:01" flashed, and I shot up out of my chair and screamed out "Holy Jesus, we've been here five hours!" Luckily, I was wrong, and at home.

The world of this film soon becomes very narrow, focusing only on Michael, his ex-wife Rachel (Alison Elliott) and her criminal boyfriend Tommy (William Fichtner) who all engage in interpersonal tension as a bank robbery plot is formed. Elizabeth Shue joins the film in a small, ridiculously coincidental part as a bank worker who wants to get laid. This film is so focused you begin to wonder if there are any other people in the town, or even on Earth. At least if Soderbergh had set the film on Mars, the narrow focus would have made more sense, and you could have walked out of the theater thinking, "Wow, I didn't know they did those sorts of things on Mars."

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