Dave's Rating:

4.0

… appropriately dour and unhappy.

Who's in It: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack

The Basics: In true "one for me, one for them" style, Clooney is back in a superserious role, after making the latest let's-go-steal-Vegas movie. Here, he's the "fixer" for an amoral law firm, and he's called in to help keep a class-action lawsuit — an evil corporation making a deadly-to-people weed killer would like to not be held accountable for all the corpses it's created — from spinning out of control. And he gets to be the gray, ambivalent center of this mostly decent '70s-style paranoia-fest.

What's the Deal? What I like about the autumn movie schedule is that it's full of movies like this that people call "tough sells," because they aren't aimed at middle-school-age audiences — movies where adults do horrible things to other adults. I'm a fan of that. And if this were a list of stuff to check off, it would go like this: Acting = great. Atmosphere = appropriately dour and unhappy. So that's nice, too. Addiction to stupid Hollywoodish "trailer moments" = minimal. So if seeing a serious-minded grown-up movie is on your to-do list, then this one won't hurt you too much.

Spoiler-Phobes, Don't Read This Bit: Skip this chunk of the review if you don't even want a hint of how it turns out. But it's too important not to mention. So, here goes:

Did you stop reading? Because really, if you care, you'll want to stop now.

I watched the final moments, wondering, in a clearly activist-minded film like this, if it's right to let the audience off the hook and for justice to be served or if it's better to get all Chinatown about it and leave you feeling like the world is not to be trusted. Ever. Because when you think about it, in the past seven years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been completely gutted (not my opinion — it's a fact; go check it out), and so for a movie where environmental disaster is part of the story, it seems like flirting with anything resembling a happy ending is just a cheap move.

MVP: As always, it's Swinton. I think she may be physically incapable of being a bad actor even in a movie I have problems with. Watch her carefully and see how, just by touching her hair too much and awkwardly fussing with her own body, she makes this could-have-been-one-dimensional character into a nervous, self-conscious wreck.

Other Part I Liked: Symbolic presence of horses. Always fun when a movie gets dorkishly heavy like that.

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