Dear Mr. Soderbergh, please do us a favor and follow through on your threats to retire. If "past behavior is the best predictor of future results" (oh, the irony of this oft repeated line in the film), I'll take that as a cue to avoid any of your future outings (as I wish I had with "Contagion").
This thing is an absolute mess. The critics have utterly missed the boat on this one. A "thriller"? If you consider long, drawn out exposition and 40 minutes of meanderings and nothingness a "thrill", you've hit the jackpot.
I even noticed much of the audience I saw this with beginning to get restless half way through. My partner fell asleep twice. I almost wanted to leave.
You can tell when a film is losing people when everyone starts adjusting themselves in their seats, and checking to see if anyone else is losing attention like you are.
I'm not really at issue with the story -- there is plenty of material here to produce something worthwhile -- it's the direction that is at issue. Soderbergh is either intentionally trying to put us to sleep or so full of himself at this point he doesn't realize what a lousy director he has become.
The film is in serious need of proper editing. It also runs a bit off the rails toward the end, losing the audience, as Jude Law's character's motivations become utterly opaque and confused. He behaves a bit schitzophrenically, at once deviating from paranoid conspiracy theorist (though I do appreciate the reference to the insider trading before 9/11) to seeming malicious schemer and sociopath doctor.
There was also a failure of a satisfying pay-off, "gotcha" moment, satisfying realization by Mara's character that she'd really been had. I know they attempted to produce this, but it fell flat.
Between long-winded scenes of exposition, I found myself wondering, "Why do I care about any of these idiots?"
David Fincher is a director great at producing tension between characters, and this film utterly lacked that tension, and that is the very thing it desperately needed. All of the characters carry on with each other with relative ease (except for Law's wife, which is neither here nor there), which is not what I was expecting at all.