Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Movie: The Big Bang (2011)

In the wake of an extremely limited theatrical release earlier this month, The Big Bang is now available on DVD. No doubt you’re thinking, “Another particle physics neo-noir? Does Hollywood make anything else?”

Ned Cruz (Antonio Banderas) is a bottom-feeding L.A. private eye having serious doubts about his profession. A boxer surprised to be sprung from prison following a homicide conviction shambles into his office with what should be an easy case: find his stripper penpal. But the Uncertainty Principle is in full effect. Before long Cruz finds himself dealing with Russian mobsters, a trio of angry cops (one played by habitual offender William Fichtner, who steals every movie he’s in), some missing conflict diamonds, and a hippie billionaire (Sam Elliott) who has bought a sizeable chunk of New Mexico to further his quest to discover the God particle.

The gaudy visual scheme deployed by director Tony Krantz is distracting and the polyglot of accents is, in the early going at least, tough to follow. But Erik Jendresen’s script has some genuine wit and cleverness, finding parallels between theoretical physics and detective fiction, between mysteries large (the universe) and small (the human heart). There are amusing riffs on Farewell, My Lovely and Kiss Me Deadly among other classic noirs. Johnny Marr of The Smiths provides the soundtrack. Jimmi Simpson has some good scenes late as Elliott’s boy genius. And Autumn Reeser explains fundamental scientific precepts in a most illuminating manner, featuring highly effective visual aids.

Is The Big Bang good? Probably not. But I was never bored. If you find the notion of Snoop Dogg shooting an existential porn film in Schrödinger’s warehouse amusing, then you may be in this movie’s burgeoning cult following. I’m there, and I hate being alone.