In director Trevor White’s middling crime thriller “A Crooked Somebody,” Michael Vaughn (Rich Sommer, who cowrote with Andrew Zilch) tours the country pretending to be a medium who can communicate with the dead. In books and at live shows, Michael may convince some of his “powers,” but as friend and business partner Chelsea (“Downton Abbey’s” Joanne Froggatt) notes, he simply “tells people what they’re desperate to hear.”
Michael’s steely minster father (Ed Harris) and more compliant mom (Amy Madigan) certainly have his number.
But when sketchy drifter Nathan (Clifton Collins Jr.) attends one of Michael’s group readings and believes the “telepathist” has intuited the truth about a notorious homicide he committed long ago, Nathan kidnaps Michael with fatal intent.
Michael, however, soon hatches a long-shot plan to save his neck, revive his ailing career and even “absolve” Nathan, all against inevitable media mayhem. Suffice to say, it’s a bumpy ride.
Logic and credibility gaps aside, this might have played better if Michael were a stronger, more intriguing, less transparent con man. Unfortunately, we’re asked to invest in a hapless opportunist, one who goes from bad to worse without redemption or emotional growth.
Sommer, who did fine supporting work on TV’s “Mad Men,” doesn’t prove a distinctive or charismatic enough presence to carry an entire film, especially one as uneven as this.
‘A Crooked Somebody’
Rated: R, for language and brief violence
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.
Playing: Starts Oct. 5, Vintage Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles; also on VOD and DirecTV