Around the world — Globetrotting drama portrays a world that is less than the sum of its parts

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Not quite Nick Cave meets Mario Puzo
Not quite Nick Cave meets Mario Puzo

360| C

The globe-hopping drama 360 has an epic scope, a loaded, hugely talented cast and a terrific creative pedigree behind the camera; unfortunately, it's devoid of excitement, passion or a real reason to care. Essentially a string of vignettes, knitted together by a number of those "only in the movies" coincidences intended to demonstrate how interconnected all our lives really are, it has all the cosmic pretensions of Crash, but with a muddled execution more reminiscent of one of Garry Marshall's "holiday" comedies. 

The film pinballs between myriad locales, including: Paris, Vienna, London, Denver, etc., though most of the "action" occurs in drab, interchangeable airport lounges, hotel rooms and office buildings. Fluorescent lighting is just as ugly in any language. 

The vast roster of characters include a Slovakian hooker (Lucia Siposová) eager to improve her circumstances, and a Russian mob bodyguard who listens to English language CDs so he can escape from being under the thumb of his vicious, thuggish boss. You will not be surprised to learn that the aforementioned prostitute ends up literally underneath that gangster, as the film works overtime to unite disparate threads, even when they probably shouldn't connect. Another of our working girl's clients is a prim, reserved wheeler-dealer, played by Jude Law, whose illicit dalliances are being used as blackmail by a German business shark angling for better terms on their deal. 

Meanwhile Law's neglected wife (Rachel Weisz) is back home engaging in her own infidelities with a Brazilian dude who already has a girlfriend of his own that he ignores. That jilted lover, Laura (Maria Flor) ends up on a plane for Miami, but gets snowed in at an airport in Denver, where she befriends both a kindly old Englishman (Anthony Hopkins) looking for his long lost daughter, and a newly paroled sex-offender struggling to keep his urges in check, played by the always intense Ben Foster. 

Anthony Hopkins is dependably engaging, even though he's stashed away his toolkit of frenzied tics and outbursts in favor of a subdued, near placid demeanor. Hopkins' character seems as worn and comforting as an old brown shoe, but he infuses him with a captivating hidden edge, something that other films would have been eager to explore and exploit, but here it gets short shrift in favor of the next subplot on the ever-spinning roulette wheel. 

Some of the stories are intriguing, but we never linger on any one of them long enough to develop the backstories, or to bond with the characters in the necessary way. 

Director Fernando Merieles (City of God) is a smooth hand, and the film is well made and sleek looking, though a dash of color could surely have helped liven things up. Screenwriter Peter Morgan has penned some of the decade's richest dramas, including The Queen, Frost/Nixon and the criminally overlooked but sublime The Damned United. Those gems had a distinctly British soul about them, shared themes about the seductive effects of power and ambition, and the burden of duty. What this one is after is not quite certain perhaps that boredom is worse than giving into our desires, even if they're dangerous? I can't say. Hopkins delivers the movie's keynote speech, in which he urges the viewer to seize the day and take risks when possible, but you'll come away wondering why the filmmakers didn't dare to make more of an interesting setup.

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