Director: George Ratliff
Studio: 10th Hole Productions
Despite a heaven-sent cast and razor-sharp Larry Beinhart (Wag the Dog) source novel that merrily skewers mega-churches and huckster preachers, Salvation Boulevard doesn’t have a prayer.
The toothless, shapeless, tone-deaf movie directed by former documentarian George Ratliff (Hell House) stars the always welcome Greg Kinnear as an ex-Deadhead stoner and fundamentalist Christian convert. One night after a rousing public debate between an atheist author (Ed Harris) and the charismatic true believer pastor (Pierce Brosnan) of Kinnear’s church, Kinnear witnesses a violent accident. Or was it? Brosnan at first seduces Kinnear into aiding in an elaborate cover up and eventually, with the help of the shady local police, pins the blame on him. From that promising satiric beginning, the movie gets blown way off-target into a series of silly chases leading nowhere. Also on board and desperately searching for directorial guidance are Jennifer Connolly as Kinnear’s brainwashed wife, Ciaran Hinds as her ramrod born again father and Marisa Tomei as a sexy, spacey fellow Deadhead sympathetic to Kinnear.
The movie, which runs only 96 minutes but feels like an eternity, certainly has its bright spots—all very good are Harris, Tomei, Yul Vazquez as a kidnapper—entrepreneur and Jim Gaffigan as a Brosnan henchman who’ll do anything, but anything to protect the public image of the church. Brosnan, too, is in terrific comic form and has his moments, especially whenever he gets one of those mysterious cell phone calls from someone he fears might actually be Satan himself. His scenes with the hapless do-gooder Kinnear are enjoyable too, although many notches down from their fantastic work together in The Matador in 2005. Once Salvation Boulevard turns into a kidnap caper, it gets sent careening down a road to nowhere that only a miracle could set back on course. That miracle never arrives.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.