I wanted to like this movie. No, scratch that. I wanted to love this movie. It has all the elements of a perfect crime-noir thriller: Brian de Palma directing, based on a novel by James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), a grim, gruesome real-life murder AND Scarlett Johansson. How could it have gone so wrong?
I won't say that the movie is terrible, because it's not. It's simply not great. It's not what it could have been. There are some wonderful scenes and some great performances. Many times it feels like a pitch-perfect 1940s crime flick, but, sadly, not often enough. The film is not greater than the sum of its individual parts.
To be honest, my biggest problem comes down to a casting decision. One of the main conceits of the film is that two of the characters look so much alike it's eerie, okay? This is, like, the lynchpin of the entire movie. And the two actresses who are portraying the supposed lookalikes? They look nothing alike!
Hilary Swank is all manly-looking with her square jaw and boxing acumen and Mia Kirshner is, you know, actually attractive. So that just never worked for me.
It's just weird. The acting is fine throughout. The directing is fine. I love the voiceover narration by Josh Hartnett's character. Everything is good on its own. I don't know if it's the editing, the story itself, but when it all comes together it all falls apart.