360 has so much going for it – on paper, anyway. The Queen/Manchester United scribe Peter Morgan wrote it. City of God/The Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles helmed it. Among the stars in a large international ensemble are Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, Moritz Bleibtreu and Jamel Debbouze. Great writer. Great director. Great cast. In theory, this latest variation on La Ronde that spins a web of interconnection between a disparate group of people ought to be a winner. The drama blending elements of romance and suspense is never boring, but it never catches fire either. Too many of the characters are too sketchily drawn, making their stories only intermittently compelling.
A handful of fine performances are what make 360 worthwhile. Law is particularly effective as a businessman at a trade show in Vienna who, finding his attempts to let his hair down in a foreign city thwarted, uses his down time to phone home. His marriage to Weisz looks perfect from the outside, but his voice mails to her acknowledge the gap between them. Russian actor Vladimir Vdovichenkov also makes a memorable turn as a lonely, soulful mobster, stuck in a loveless marriage and harnessed to rude and impossible boss Mark Ivanir. And Ben Foster as a twitchy sex offender trying to stay straight is creepy and poignant at the same time.
The people in 360 are citizens of the world. Their connections are forged on planes, in airports, at hotels, in support groups, on the internet. Borders are porous and a random connection can come from anywhere. The film starts and ends in Vienna and visits Bratislava, London, Paris, Denver and Phoenix. Morgan and Meirelles are trying to make a point about the global nature of humanity and how small the world has become in our age. But they have overreached in trying to balance too many characters and too many situations. What might have resonated is instead too often a bland muddle. – Pam Grady