The Ladykillers

Rated 2.0 Joel and Ethan Coen’s remake of the English 1955 black comedy (which starred Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers) is given a bent visual lift from Roger Deakins’ cinematography and Dennis Gassner’s production design but flounders as an exhilarating caper. The Coens have moved the film’s locale from London to the deep South. Tom Hanks stars as a charlatan professor who has gathered a motley crew for a huge heist involving a riverboat casino, an underground vault and a long tunnel. This inept gang of sorts pretends to be a classical-music quintet, uses the root cellar of a churchgoing matron as its base of operations and then attempts to silence its hostess after she discovers the crew’s scheme. Hanks doesn’t muster much energy in the lead role, and most of the remaining characters play their roles so broadly that the film feels strained rather than organically funny. The gospel-drenched soundtrack intermittently resuscitates the heart and soul of the production but acts as more of a bandage than a saving grace.