Watching the caper comedy "Cat Run," it's easy to feel sucked into some kind of time warp back to the heyday of late-'90s post-Tarantino crime thrillers, cut-rate knockoffs filled with casually cartoonish violence, quippy patter, overtly flash filmmaking and incongruous pop tunes on the soundtrack.
The story concerns a pair of American dudes (Scott Mechlowicz, Alphonso McAuley) living in Europe who start a detective agency on something of a whim. They soon find themselves in pursuit of a single-mom call girl (Paz Vega) caught up in a sex scandal involving a wicked American dignitary (venerable character actor Christopher McDonald). Borders are crossed, blood is spilled both for laughs and shock effect, babes get topless and D.L. Hughley passes through. There's even a crude gag involving a man and a kilt.
The film is written by newcomers Nick Ball and John Niven, but it's the name of director John Stockwell that gives the most pause here. An actor turned journeyman filmmaker in the mold of old Hollywood, Stockwell has a filmography of better-than-they-could-be films such as "Crazy/Beautiful," "Blue Crush" and "Turistas" alongside more make-work titles.
"Cat Run" falls squarely into the a-family-needs-to-eat category, because there is a careless lack of attention about the whole thing, something that could be perceived as smugness if the film didn't feel so haphazard and lazy.
Included among the film's executive producers is Ram Bergman, who worked with filmmaker Rian Johnson on the grossly undervalued "The Brothers Bloom." This connective factor is the likely explanation for how so many scenes in "Cat Run" look to take place in the same stylishly off-kilter European locations as "Brothers Bloom," the cataloging of which allows for a pleasant distraction.
"Cat Run." MPAA rating: R for strong bloody violence, sexual content, nudity and language. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. In limited release.