oh, what might have been. Such a wonderous premise, and yet in the end, too many loose ends and leaps of faith cause this otherwise taught thriller to become a merely watchable bit of entertainment.
Simply watching the interplay between Costner and Hurt is worth the price of admission, and they are wonderful as alter egos who, by the end of the film switch roles; the adventurous Hurt pleading caution, while the more cautious and conscientious Costner hatches an elaborate plan to not only remove himself from the tangled prediciment he's found himself in, but save his daughter, who, the film reminds us in a nice touch at the film's end, really shouldn't be saved.
I had no problem believing that a serial killer could have a conscience, trying to keep his demons at bay with a 12 step program, nor did I have a problem with Dane Cook's vouyeristic charactor getting a charge out of witnessing a murder and blackmailing Costner for a repeat performance - that seedy side of humanity struck a certain chord of moral ambiguity where the perceived wants of the individual supercede the cival contract of societies mores; and I think that simply being "outside the box" was part of the allure.
What the film portrays of human nature is a strength here - from the glee in Cook's eye as he imagines actually killing an idiot driver who has cut him off, to the split personality of Costner/Hurt - who both are necessary parts of the whole.
Where the film loses its luster is with the Demi Moore charactor. The psycobabble explainations for rich girl turned cop simply doesn't wash, and the scene where the "hangman killer" shoots and misses Moore in a lighted hallway from 20 feet away when he had all the time in the world to take careful aim... seemed so out of place in a script that was otherwise so well conceived. The following gunplay, shot in strobe light jerks and odd angles also seemed to have been edited in from a different film.
The pentultimate scene where Costner, after managing to make his persona (the thumb print killer) disappear (leading the police to believe that the lately deceased Cook was the killer), then calls Moore to ask a rather inane question - thus revealing that he is still around, made the entire setup before it superflous. He's far to intelligent to fall into the old "all serial killers want to draw attention to themselves" routine. He and his alter ego even have a discussion about it - and then he goes and reveals himself anyway. Nooooo!