In the opening minutes of cowriter-director David Grovic's "The Bag Man," a crime boss named Dragna (played by Robert DeNiro) assigns weary hitman Jack (played by John Cusack) to pick up a bag, but warns him "do not open this bag."
And of course, we know what Jack will eventually do.
"The Bag Man" is Grovic's directorial debut with a script co-written by Paul Conway and inspired by the story "The Cat" by Marie-Louise Von Franz. Its also a mostly forgettable bit of crime pulp storytelling that borrows much of its cliche plot elements from better movies.
In fact, it not so subtly references many of Cusack's best movies including "Gross Pointe Blank," "The Ice Harvest" and "The Grifters," as well as dressing DeNiro up as a colorful mafioso version of director Martin Scorsese.
Adding to the movie's bizarre hodgepodge storyline are a midget, an eye patch wearing black pimp in a leather jacket (who looks strikingly similar to Samuel L. Jackson's "Avengers" character Nick Fury), a statuesque stripper (played by Rebecca DeCosta), who happens to be proficient in firearms and dresses like Wonder Woman, a long-haired, bearded Crispin Glover as a seedy motel desk clerk with a gentlemanly southern accent, and a crooked tough guy local sheriff played by Dominic Purcell.
All of it adds up to a weird mix of dark comedy and crime drama with aspirations of being a moody atmospheric thriller.
However, even the big twist reveal at the end cannot save this movie from its own meta, post-irony, hipster filmmaking vibe.
Unless your a huge fan of both DeNiro and Cusack, who doesn't mind shelling out cash to see this in a theater, I would highly recommend waiting for it to reach VOD, RedBox and Netflix.
Cinedigm will release "The Bag Man" in select theaters on Feb. 28.