“The Big Bang” may be too brilliant for its own good.
On the one hand, the new noir boasts an absolutely outstanding visual style that is bound to astound anyone able to appreciate the artistic aspects of cinema. On the other hand, the strange story itself is so complicated and convoluted that even Albert Einstein’s head would spin.
Antonio Banderas stars as Ned Cruz, a Los Angeles private detective who receives a visit from a recently paroled Russian boxer (Robert Maillet) who wants to enlist him in his search for his missing girlfriend and the $30 million stash of diamonds that she is hiding. Cruz is reluctant but eventually decides to take the job.
The clues take Cruz into the city’s seediest corners, from a Hollywood action star (James Van Der Beek) with a dirty little secret, to an enterprising porn producer (Snoop Dogg) who takes a personal interest in his own work, and a kinky waitress (Autumn Reeser) with an unusual fetish for particle physics.
The trail eventually leads to a reclusive billionaire (Sam Elliott) and his physicist (Jimmi Simpson), who are intent on recreating the Big Bang beneath the New Mexico desert. With that, Cruz soon realizes that what at first appeared be be a standard missing person’s case is anything but – and could quite possibly bring about the end of the world.
“The Big Bang’s” unusually large cast gives the flick an annoyingly episodic feel. Part of the problem is that screenwriter Erik Jendreson tells this story in flashback, with a trio of cops (Thomas Kretschmann, William Fichtner and Delroy Lindo) interrogating Banderas’s character.
Banderas’s accent is hard enough to comprehend without the actor mumbling in a drunkenly long-winded fashion. Likewise, the story would be hard enough to comprehend had it been told straight-forward as opposed to backtracking through those various aforementioned episodes. Needless to say, it is incredibly easy to lose interest.
And one definitely needs to retain interest in “The Big Bang” if they hope to have any chance of understanding it. After all, the ideas themselves are quite creative, mirroring the movie’s aesthetic beauty. In an interview with icedjamb.com/Phoenix, director Tony Krantz admitted, in hindsight, to possibly making a mistake by not holding anything back.
“Maybe, sometimes in the future, you want to put two-thirds of what we put into the movie – not three-thirds of it,” Krantz says. “That one-third that you take out may make the meal a little bit easier for people to take and a little bit more familiar. When I go to a baseball game, I like to get mustard on my hot dog but not necessarily onions, tomatoes, pickles and mustard.”
So, in the end, it comes down to an argument of style over substance. Come to think of it, perhaps in some sort of twisted time loop, “The Big Bang” is the reason behind that portrait of Albert Einstein in which the famous physicist sports a funny face. I had exactly the same look on my face after watching this flick.
“The Big Bang” (NR – 101 minutes) is now available on DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.