Entertainment Weekly dubbed this film one of the worst of the year. I wouldn't go that far, but this does rank as one of Will Smith's least-performing motion pictures of his career.
The only real problem I had with this movie is that for weeks leading up to its release, the plot details were kept secret because of the surprise ending that the film had. Except, the surprise ending wasn't that big of a surprise.
About halfway through the film, probably not even that much, I guessed what the ending was in my mind, and, lo and behold, I was right. I have not done that in a mystery film in many years. The film starts out and progresses so oddly that I was hoping for something more complex, something slightly more intriguing or clever, an ironic twist, like something out of M. Night Shyamalan.
But, no. The writer and director here simply aren't that smart. Everything becomes painstakingly obvious a half-hour or so into it. That's of course after a reel or two of cinematic awkwardness.
Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who begins stalking several people for reasons unknown, but as I said the reasons become painstakingly obvious. The clues aren't that subtle. You can piece them together with not much effort.
Thomas seems to want to help the people he stalks but you're not sure why or how he wants to help them. Smith gives a fairly decent performance. He looks a lot leaner and skinnier than he did in this summer's Hancock, not as buff. His more svelte appearance is indicative of his character's suffering. It's one of the only subtle nuances in this movie.
Rosario Dawson (Sin City and Eagle Eye) co-stars as Emily Posa, a sick woman with piling up medical bills, which is at first caught off guard by Thomas but eventually falls for the mysterious tax collector. A romance builds between the two that is sweet and endearing and is probably some of the best moments that this film generates.
Unfortunately it all falls under the weight of the lame premise revealed at the end. Sadly, this film now stands as one of the worst reviewed movies of Smith's career. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 28 percent approval ratubg. Hancock got 39 percent approval. Smith's last dramatic film The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) garnered 66 percent approval.
The box office numbers for this film also don't look promising. It only scored a measly $14 million on opening weekend, which is bad for Will Smith. That's about half of what The Pursuit of Happiness did. It probably won't end up being as big a flop as The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), but only because the production cost is far less here.
By the way, good luck trying to figure out what the title of this movie means. We'll probably have to wait for the DVD commentary for that. It's more than likely just a ruse, not meaning anything.
Two Stars out of Five
Rated PG-13 for themes and one brief sex scene
Running Time: 1 hr. 58 mins.