It's no great surprise that this film sat on the shelf for two years before going straight to video all over the world.
John Malkovich's particular brand of reptilian charm is perfectly suited to the role of Tom Ripley and it's a pity to think of what he could have done with the same character had he been given a decent film to work with.
Dougray Scott (always great) and Lena Headey have real chemistry and intensity together as well, but they're all let down by a script that feels like a rough first draft and by direction that lacks any confidence.
The film veers wildly from light drama to clumsily staged action to brutal violence to black comedy -- mostly a series of groan-inducing one-liners after Ripley kills people. There's very little energy driving the thing as it lumbers from scene to scene, and it was quite a chore to sit through the whole film.
Perhaps my largest complaint is that the characters have no inner life. After the fascinating psychological exploration of Tom Ripley offered in Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley," this film doesn't even try to let us inside his mind.
The narrative focus is not really on Ripley anyway, but on Dougray Scott's everyman. He, too, remains uninvolving, in spite of Scott's committed performance, because we're not allowed into his feelings either.
There are a laundry list of things Scott's character goes through that are never explored. He's dying of Leukemia, yet this is barely more than a plot point. He is an ordinary man, who decides to commit a murder for money for his family, yet he needs only a brief moment of consideration onscreen to make this life-altering decision.
Later, when he learns that his bland neighbor Ripley is actually a ruthless murderer and proceeds to help him to do away with three men, he barely even bats an eye.