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They’re both great in The Messenger. Don’t kill the messenger when I tell you — avoid this!

I was really excited to see this movie. There was buzz that Woody Harrelson was a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination (and boy was he mad when the nominations were announced and he wasn’t on the list).

The film was written and directed by Oren Moverman, who did The Messenger. That was one of my favorites of 2009. And he brought along Ben Foster (with Harrelson), who were both great in The Messenger. The film is also from a piece James Ellroy wrote. I’ve always enjoyed his stuff.

Imagine my surprise watching the most disappointing movie I’ve seen in years.

Right from the start, we’re hearing horrible dialogue and seeing totally implausible scenarios. Of course, you could argue that this is the late 90s and the LAPD were having problems. I just can’t see this character lasting more than a week on the force, or seeing how he would’ve been able to marry two sisters (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon), and they’d all live in the same house.

Harrelson plays a Vietnam Vet that’s working as a cop (nicknamed “Date Rape” for killing an alleged rapist). There are corruption scandals going on, and he’s caught on film beating a suspect.

This gives us a chance to see a cast that will include Sigourney Weaver and Ice Cube (who coincidently did the theme song for a similar and better movie years earlier – Colors).

We also get a small role from the talented Steve Buscemi, who also had a small part in The Messenger.

Robin Wright is a lawyer with a few problems. One of which is an affair with Harrelson. I glanced at my watch, and it was 45 minutes before I heard the first interesting line of dialogue. Heche said to Harrelson “Do you have cancer? Because if you don’t, I’m done.”

Some might say “You didn’t like the movie, but you can at least acknowledge Harrelson was great in it.”

I guess most people would have no problem saying that. I thought Training Day was horrible, and Denzel Washington won an Oscar for it. I don’t say I liked his performance in that. When I’m watching a totally despicable character, in a horrible script with no story arc…topped off with bad directing and awful cinematography…no, I can’t say it’s worth seeing for Harrelson.

During the screening, I started writing down the scenes that really bothered me. One involved Harrelson dealing with the DA and his lawyer. Another had cops applauding him after he came back to the office, and the TV news has shown him beating a suspect. Another involved bad karaoke at a bar – a scene that’s been done to death. I finally started to run out of room on my paper, because basically every scene in this is idiotic.

I’d just like to know how many cigarettes were harmed in the filming.

I don’t have to like the protagonist that the movie is doing a character study about, but Harrelson wasn’t even enjoyable to watch.

The Dan Brown character wasn’t interesting, but James Ellroy did give us the very interesting Jackie Brown. I suggest you rent that instead; or perhaps Michael Caine playing a vigilante in Harry Brown from a few years ago. There…I gave you two other “Brown” characters you can enjoy with a cheap rental.

I’m guessing 90% of you will not like this movie.

It gets 0 out of 5 stars.

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