It only took 125 years of moviemaking, but The Misfits has finally given us the cinematic equivalent of a wet willy. That might sound a smidge dramatic, but after 94 miserable minutes of this sweaty, obnoxious action bonanza, I wanted to scrub out both my ears with soap. Seriously, I can’t handle another Fast and Furious knockoff, wherein a bunch of smartass douchebags strut, pose, and smarm their way through an entire movie. To make matters worse, we also get misogyny masquerading as some kind of feminism, and overt racism deployed for cheap comedy. The filmmakers even cap off this crapola with the hint of a sequel. Maybe that movie can pull my underwear over my head.
The script brings together story elements from other, better films, and proceeds to dry hump them before our very eyes: Savvy viewers will spot riffs on Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, Ronin, and….yes, damn it, The Fast and the Furious. The story is laid out by Ringo (Nick Cannon), in a hopelessly clunky barrage of opening narration. Basically, our heroes are a bunch of modern-day Robin Hoods, stealing from lowlifes to help the downtrodden. Ringo introduces us to the whole Scooby gang: Wick (Mike d’Angelo) is a young demolitions expert. Violet (Jamie Chung) specializes in handing out beatdowns. Finally, the Prince (Rami Jaber) supplies the group with resources and cover.
These Misfits have a big job on the horizon, but they’ll need one more guy to do it: Richard Pace (Pierce Brosnan) is a suave, urbane thief, who’s spent most of his life looking out for Numero Uno. Unfortunately, that attitude extends to his daughter (Hermione Corfield), who also has a part to play in these shenanigans.
The group’s main target is Schultz (Tim Roth), and the only things I can confidently say about him are that he’s British, and he’s an asshole. This movie likes to play fast and loose with the little details. Anyway, Pace and the gang scheme to relieve Schultz and his fellow villains of all their gold, and deliver it to those who need it most.
What follows is an all-out assault on good taste. The film plays up Violet as an ass-kicker, but also makes her an outlet for Pace’s cheeseball pickup lines. She’s also driven by a vitriolic hatred of men, presumably because the writers couldn’t come up with a better reason for a woman to be so motivated. Also, the bulk of the film takes place in the Middle East, and most of the Muslim characters are presented as bumbling, ineffectual comic relief. Seriously, The Misfits makes The Three Stooges look modern and sophisticated. At the same time, this movie doesn’t contain a flattering depiction of anybody anywhere, so maybe it’s just humanity in general who should be deeply offended.
Now, who gets the blame for something like this? Let’s start with Renny Harlin, the veteran director who gave us Die Hard 2 and Cutthroat Island, the latter of which was the biggest bomb ever produced without plutonium in it. His work here is slick and flashy to the point of distraction; slow-motion is unleashed with laughable ineptitude. Action beats are choppy to the point of incoherence. The Misfits captures that rare Michael Bay combo of looking expensive and cheap at the same time.
We might also cast a judgmental eye on screenwriters Robert Henny and Kurt Wimmer. This movie could’ve and should’ve been disposable, B-movie fun–a $1 DVD at the drug store that turns out to be a decent surprise. But noooooooo. For example, the gang breaks into a high-tech prison to steal their loot. Unfortunately, part of that heist involves sickening the entire prison to create a distraction. Does the film linger on convicts retching and pooping? Of course it does! And Harlin makes sure to showcase the puke-splattered walls for an extended stretch, just in case you try and delete that nightmare from your brain.
If anybody escapes unscathed from all this bull spit, it’s Brosnan. He brings a light breeze through the whole movie, and his old-school panache is further testament to everything The Misfits could’ve been. Mind you, that’s still not much, but this didn’t have to be a vomitorium. Brosnan is a true movie star, and it’s a little distressing to see him in such intellectually underpowered material.
I guess if there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s that The Misfits is a nice primer for the upcoming Fast and Furious shitshow, F9. (Incidentally, we’re now one installment away from F10, which hopefully represents the button on the keyboard we press to exit the entire franchise.) It’s kinda like how a wet willy helps get you ready for taking a nerf bat right to the Nutter Butters™. So there’s that. My advice? Avoid this kind of punishment in the first place.
94 min. R.