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Kazakh crime thriller 'Diamond Cartel' is a best-forgotten mess

Kazakh crime thriller 'Diamond Cartel' is a best-forgotten mess
Armand Assante in the film "Diamond Cartel." (Cleopatra Entertainment)

Perhaps most disheartening about the disjointed mess "Diamond Cartel" is that it will go down as the late, great Peter O'Toole's final screen appearance. What he was doing in this cheesy, Kazakhstan shot-and-set crime thriller is anyone's guess; that he's scarcely in it may be the saving grace.

Several other familiar actors also found their way into the mayhem here, most notably a bulky, scenery-chewing Armand Assante in a new career low as an unhinged kingpin-type in pursuit of a mega-diamond. Michael Madsen, Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa pop up as well in other blurry, one-note roles.

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Nominal lead characters Ruslan (Alexey Frandetti) and Aliya (Karlygash Mukhamedzhanova), reunited ex-lovers who become dubiously involved with said diamond, provide a bit of focus to the dizzying plot. But the attractive pair too often gets lost amid baffling flashbacks, clunky action sequences, incoherent double-crosses, a rogues' gallery of stock bad guys, tone-deaf melodrama, florid narration and scads of hackneyed dialogue.

Director Salamat Mukhammed-Ali, who co-wrote with Magamet Bachaev and Dauren Mussa, serves up a gaudy mishmash of visual styles that plays out against a whatever-works musical score. The film's audio is, to be charitable, inconsistent.

The largely Russian- and Kazakh-speaking cast is so incongruously dubbed into English it evokes an old Japanese monster movie.

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'Diamond Cartel'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge at the Montalban, Hollywood

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