Freshman director D.J. Caruso expertly cuts tragedy, entrapment and revenge into jolting snorts of methamphetamine noir as a man with a blurred identity (Val Kilmer) invites us to decipher his past and future. This acrid blast through Southern California drug dens is populated by bottom-feeders that are at times so out of control or evil or both that I wanted to rush home, gather up my loved ones and move to another planet. Caruso and writer Tony Gayton fill their murky, highly amped story of narcotics buys, bashes, betrayals and busts with elements from such films as The Usual Suspects
(a bookend fire and narration), Memento
(a man hunting his wife’s killer) and Requiem for a Dream
(exhilarating cinematography). They then restructure these elements into a decidedly fresh concoction of squalor, corruption and redemption.