PLOT: A crew of international do-gooders enlists the aid of a master thief, Richard Pace (Pierce Brosnan) to help them foil a notorious prison magnate (Tim Roth) with ties to international terrorism.
REVIEW: Along with James Bond and Remington Steele, I’d wager that Pierce Brosnan’s other signature role is Thomas Crown from John McTiernan’s 1999 gem The Thomas Crown Affair. That movie is the rare remake that’s arguably better than the original. For years Brosnan has teased a sequel, but none have come to fruition, so it’s hard not to see THE MISFITS, where he plays a distinctly Crown-esque figure, as a kind of quasi follow-up. Too bad then that the film is such a dud considering the talent involved, including master action director Renny Harlin.
The director of such untouchable classics as Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and more, Harlin does his best to lend some verve to this thinly plotted heist movie. It’s sunk from pretty much the opening scene, where Nick Cannon’s clunky narration introduces us to the titular Misfits. Cannon, who mugs wildly throughout in what seems to be a Chris Tucker impersonation, is especially tiresome as the film goes on. He’s a so-called master of disguise named Ringo, but the disguises consist of him doing some pretty un-P.C impressions of Arabs, a recurring motif in this film that dates the film badly. That said, before we all clutch our pearls too tightly, the movie is produced by United Arab Emirate’s FilmGate Productions and is the first western production both set in and filmed in Abu Dhabi, so clearly this wasn’t a major concern to the financiers.
In fact, the movie feels like a glorified tourism ad for Abu Dhabi. Harlin at least has some fun with the setting by making it a dream world where the taxis that pick you up at the airport at all Lamborghinis, beautiful women with plunging necklines walk cheetahs in hotel lobbies, and all the extras are drop-dead gorgeous.
The premise is little more than an excuse to stage a glamorous travelogue, but even still the movie lacks one big component of a film like this – action. Brosnan seems to be having a ball as a more louche version of Thomas Crown, cracking wise and sporting impeccably tailored suits. He earns his salary, but he’s sidelined in the movie’s one big action scene – a car chase involving co-star/producer Rami Jaber – a former rally car racer. He plays Prince, the guy who assembles the “misfits”, which also includes Thai pop star Mike Angelo (who’s got a lot of charisma), Hermione Cornfield (as Brosnan’s estranged daughter), and Jamie Chung as the team’s badass.
Chung has always been underrated and it’s fun to see her play an action heroine, but her fights are few and far between, with a jokey intro that pays tribute to The Matrix falling flat. Roth shows up to collect a paycheck as the sniveling baddie but doesn’t contribute too much given his limited screentime.
It’s a tribute to Harlin’s skill behind the camera that The Misfits, as bad as it is, still manages to be a tolerable ninety-minute time waster. There’s nothing at all to it, but his visual style is (as always) appealing and he knows how to craft a frenetic pace. I also liked that he brought Trevor Rabin on to co-write the score, but both guys (along with Brosnan and Chung) deserve so much more.
It’s too bad because I was kind of excited for The Misfits. An international thriller starring Brosnan in Thomas Crown mode, being directed by Renny Harlin and co-written by Equilibrium’s Kurt Wimmer sounded great, but the finished product sadly falls flat. Too bad.