The Minus Man (1999)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Notable as the directorial debut of Blade Runner co-scripter Hampton Fancher, this darkly comic thriller stars affable Owen Wilson as Vann Siegert, a different brand of serial killer: one who actually believes he's doing his deeply depressed victims a service of mercy. Wandering up the West Coast, Vann chooses victims from a parade of colorful social misfits -- including a haggard junkie (singer Sheryl Crow) whose pain he ends with a nip from his flask of poison amaretto -- and expounds on his motives with a pocket tape recorder (a drawling monologue that serves as the film's narrative voice-over). A brief layover in Owensville eventually finds Vann in the company of quarreling middle-aged couple Doug and Jane (Brian Cox and Mercedes Ruehl), who grow fond of the young drifter's amiable demeanor and take him on as a boarder. After landing a job at the local post office, Vann catches the eye of co-worker Ferrin (Janeane Garofalo), and a tentative romance blossoms -- but even love can't distract Vann from his crusade to terminate people's unhappiness: "They come to me like moths, because I shine," he explains. Though not the complex psychological game it purports to be, The Minus Man is an intriguing character study -- imagine a kindler, gentler version of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer -- with some clever twists and fine performances, including a touching portrayal from the usually acerbic Garofalo. Geared more to the art-movie crowd than to fans of Hitchcockian thrills, this film opened to raves at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Artisan Entertainment

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Owen Wilson
as Vann Siegert
Brian Cox
as Doug
Sheryl Crow
as Caspar
Alex Warren
as State Trooper
Walter C. Bassett
as Utility Cable
Chloe Black
as Karen (age 18)
Brent Briscoe
as Chief of Police
Mark Derwin
as Creech
Maria Diaz
as Anchorwoman
Meg Foster
as Irene
Matt Gerald
as Arresting Officer
Madeleine Ignon
as Karen (age 5)
Lew McCreary
as Man in Diner
Axel Ovregaard
as Joe La Moine
John Vargas
as Priest
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Critic Reviews for The Minus Man

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (9)

A sociopathic serial poisoner provides everyone with the nihilistic zero they need in this intelligent and disheartening dramatic thriller for Generation Blank.

Full Review… | July 16, 2007

A powerful performance by Wilson....and believe me, you've never seen him like this!

March 10, 2006

Horrible character piece. Nothing happens and you don't care why.

August 15, 2003

The film's measured pace might not be for every viewer, but it added greatly to the tension.

Full Review… | February 28, 2002
Goatdog's Movies

A marginal but very interesting work.

Full Review… | April 28, 2001
Matinee Magazine

Coming at a time when people seem to be looking outwards for causes of violence, this movie challenges us to instead reflect inwards.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for The Minus Man

Something constructed back when Owen Wilson felt a need to act. The film hangs far too often.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Leigh Ryan
Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer


A very disappointing attempt of a psychological thriller about a murderer in the shape of a regular guy. While Owen Wilson turns out be be very convincing despite of his comedy background, and the rest of the cast is pretty good too, somehow the movie just isn't very interesting. The killer poisons one victim after the other rather randomly and yet nothing exciting happens. No suspense, no surprises, just a few rather odd scenes of imaginary dialogues with policemen. Boring.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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