At first glance, I'm not sure how promising Tony Krantz's "The Big Bang" seemed. A strange blend of detective film noir with science fiction undertones, I think the movie might be a bit divisive. I'm sure that some people will be perplexed by this uneasy marriage of disparate concepts! Maybe I was in a good mood, but I went with this increasingly wacky premise. Having no fore knowledge of the plot and absolutely zero expectations, I enjoyed the visual flourishes and dark humor inherent in the tale. Almost a send up of classic private eye films where the intrepid hero pursues a missing person, "The Big Bang" veers unexpectedly into the territory of particle physics and the actual Big Bang. I won't go much beyond that in describing the film, whose main pleasures come from not knowing exactly where this sordid tale is leading you.
The story unfolds as our gumshoe is being interrogated by three cops after a series of murders. Antonio Banderas plays the lead and recounts a complicated tale of being hired by an ex-con to locate a woman who wrote him letters while he was in the big house. As every step of the search results in another dead body and the progress becomes more twisted--mob connections, missing diamonds, and mad scientists all come into play. The final confrontations have a lunatic mania that I really enjoyed and the further the picture removed itself from reality, the more it entertained me. The film is quirky and amusing and never less than interesting--and, for me, that was good enough. The reveal when the client meets the letter writer is perhaps the film's signature moment and this one scene makes up for many of the story's other shortcomings.
A number of good character actors take on small roles including Thomas Kretschmann, William Fichter, and Delroy Lindo as the cops. But Sam Elliott is a scene stealer and Jimmi Simpson portrays a small, but pivotal, part to perfection. At the end of the day, few people will consider this a great film. But it is different. It takes classic genres with their requisite expectations and flips the script in some refreshing, if decidedly offbeat, ways. Billed as a thriller, I can't help appreciating the satirical elements in the film. I'm not sure that was anyone's intention, but ultimately by embracing the film's eccentricities--I had some fun with this one. If you take it too seriously, however, it might leave you a bit baffled. Not for everyone--but odd enough to please some--check this out for something off the beaten path. About 3 1/2 stars. I'll round up in deference to the lunacy of the plot. KGHarris, 5/11.