The Killer Inside Me

Rated 3.0

In director Michael Winterbottom’s film of Jim Thompson’s noir novel, Casey Affleck plays a mannerly mid-'50s Texas lawman with a troubled history and a tendency toward extreme sadism. It’s a fine idea to turn Affleck’s squawky self-assurance into a lens on sociopathy, but Winterbottom and co-writer John Curran seem neither to examine nor to indulge, and the result feels strangely inconsequential. Then again, trumping up pulp with a too-straight face does sometimes lead to Oscar nominations. What’s worst about the prolonged, much-ballyhooed battery of Jessica Alba and, later, Kate Hudson, is that lazy writing and torpid acting have conspired to preclude even a trace of feminist resistance to this inherent monstrosity. There’s more to it in the way of plot—involving blackmail, betrayal and the like—but many scenes dawdle in self-enchantment instead of just coming to their point. Supporting players include Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, Brent Briscoe and Simon Baker, all generously abetting Affleck’s spectacle and basking in the oily sheen of Marcel Zyskind’s cinematography. J.K.