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`London's' characters may get high, but not involving

There's a stage-bound feel to a film in which a going-away party involves drink, drugs and philosophizing.

February 10, 2006|Kevin Crust | Times Staff Writer

Doing copious amounts of illegal drugs and seeing a therapist would seem a huge waste of money on at least one count. In Hunter Richards' tedious, claustrophobic drama, "London," which stars the attractive triumvirate of Chris Evans, Jessica Biel and Jason Statham, the characters partake of the former while prattling on about matters best left for the latter -- or ignored altogether.

Evans plays Syd, a more manic than usual New Yorker who freaks when he discovers his ex-girlfriend London (Biel) is leaving town to shack up with some guy on the other coast. After destroying his apartment and scoring some blow at a bar, Syd crashes London's going-away party at an upscale Buddhist-influenced loft belonging to the parents of a friend, Rebecca (Isla Fisher, who played the crazy sister in "Wedding Crashers").

Accompanying Syd to the party is Bateman (Statham), the British dealer -- er, banker -- who sold him the coke. They're the first to arrive and quickly retreat to an upstairs bathroom to snort, drink, yell, scream and occasionally philosophize existentially. Bateman brings a few kinks to the table but none of it is very interesting. These are whiny, self-absorbed people you would loathe spending five minutes with, let alone 90.

As Syd tries to work up his nerve to speak to London for the first time in two months, he and Bateman are joined serially in the john by Maya (Kelli Garner), a Lolita-esque schoolgirl bursting from her blouse, and Mallory (Joy Bryant), a bartender keen on other forms of getting high. If there's any humor in this it's lost in a haze of indulgence.

Most of the film feels stage-bound, like a play stuffed with tangential flashbacks to open it up. Richards mistakes boorishness for drama, and the seemingly tendentious desire to be off-putting succeeds all too well.

Things become so dull at times, one can only fantasize that Evans will reprise his "Fantastic Four" role and burst into flames, or that Statham will shift into "Transporter" mode and run him over.

By the time some actual bedlam breaks out, it's too little, too late.



MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, pervasive language and drug use, and some violence

A Destination Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Writer-director Hunter Richards. Producers Ash Shah, Paul Davis Miller, Bonnie Timmerman. Cinematographer Jo Willems. Editor Tracey Wadmore-Smith. Music by the Crystal Method. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

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