27 September 2003 | rsoonsa
TOO MANY INGREDIENTS STIRRED INTO THIS ONE.
The primary thread of this wandering story concentrates upon Zach Resnick (Michael Ontkean), a tenured Chicago Police Department homicide detective, and his complex relationships with, among others, his father Abraham (Martin Landau), another veteran Chicago officer, his grandfather Moses (Eli Wallach), who has apparently succeeded in removing himself from a career as a racketeer, his flawed detective partner (Joe Morton), and his girlfriend (Patricia Clarkson), a star newspaper reporter. Director Bradford May prepares an interesting film here but must contend with many layers and incomplete subplots from David Black's crabbed screenplay, with a result that an impressive veneer of sincerity cannot handle an ordained reliance, for the sake of dramatic pacing, upon seemingly countless cinematic cliches, unfolding even unto the camerawork. A point of view is quickly made explicit: the merit of retaining integrity rather than "going along" with an easier, and often corrupt pattern of behaviour, but it is difficult to set aside a lacklustre performance from Ontkean who in each scene in which he appears projects mental sluggishness by comparison with anyone else about him, notably so in the case of the outstanding actor Gerry Becker, who portrays the leader of the forces of evil; sexual chemistry between Ontkean and the able Clarkson is nil.