The premise should have had every possibility of becoming an eerie, intricate study of the underworld of snuff moviemaking – certainly not the most explored territory. Unfortunately, after a promising and well-paced intro, Joel Schumacher once again exposes himself as a not very subtle director. That the film becomes a formulaic thriller is something we can live with. A far bigger problem is the questionable (to say the least) motivation of the Cage-character. His phone call to Amy Morton and subsequent final scene with James Gandolfini are particularly ridiculous. Andrew Kevin Walker’s script turns out to be immature and banal, and Schumacher is guilty of more plagiarism than Noel Gallagher would have been if you let him raid the Beatles catalogue (wait a minute, he already did that). It is typical that the film’s by far most interesting character isn’t looked into until the final minute (in a sequence in which Nicolas Cage is Jodie Foster and Chris Bauer is Ted Levine). Instead we get too much of Peter Stormare’s overacting and too little of a fine Joaquin Phoenix.