If it weren't for the profanity, nudity, and the violence (well, the way it is sometimes presented, that is), you would think that this film came out during the 1940s.
That's by design though, as this is essentially an exercise is genre and technique more tha nanything. The film has the look, feel, and style of a 1940 film noir, and was even created like one- using the same type of cameras, lighting, and art direction. The opening credits sequence is a gem. It's just a shame the rest of the film doesn't maintain that same high level.
Why the mild recommendation, then? Well, I should give this a C+, but I'm so enamored with how this was done that I have a hard time crapping on it like I should. Besides, everyone else rips on it already. I figure it could use a defender.
It's has a similar plot to stuff like Casablanca and The Third Man, and it definitely apes from those films (in ways too numerous to name), but, while it never reaches that leve lof greatness, the film is very much something interesting, even if it doesn't fully hit the mark. Call it a noble failure.
The main issue is that the audience can't really invest in the characters or story. There should be more character development and something about the characters that would make people care. The acting isn't bad though. I mena, Tobey Maguire is a little out of place, but he doesn't quite ruin things.
With this film's desire to be like a 40s film, it seems odd to me that they'd throw in modern elements that wouldn't have gotten past the Hays Code (language, sex/nudity). They should have truly gone all out and really made it like a period piece down to every detail.
Besides not caring about the characters, the story seems a little all over the place, which is a shame. I do like the dealing with feelings of guilt and survival, though.
Okay, so, while this film isn't great, it's not that bad either. I may be slightly inflating my grade, but I can't help it that I just love what Soderbergh and Co. tried to do here. It's just a sahme it couldn't have been as great as it should have.