Anthony Hopkins stars in "360." (Magnolia Pictures )
Beyond the economic and political ramifications of globalization, consider its effect on movie stories: the cross-cultural slice-and-dice, á la "Babel," that too often passes for meaning and resonance. In"360,"the new border-hopping feature from"City of God"director Fernando Mereilles, the faux profundity runs deep, infecting nearly every exchange in each vignette, whether the setting is Berlin, Bratislava or Paris.
Mereilles avoids touristy shots of his multiple locations, yet any sense of realism is undone by contrivance. With its international collection of mostly two-dimensional characters and its barely developed ideas on adultery, capitalism, addiction and sex, "360" is an over-plotted and dreary farrago.
Subtlety has never been the director's strong suit, but it's a bit of a shock that the muddled screenplay is the work of Peter Morgan, who brought wit and insight to such terrifically involving character studies as "The Queen," "Nixon/Frost" and "The Last King of Scotland."
Setting forth the underwhelming notion of life as an unbroken chain of forks in the road — i.e. personal decisions that influence everything that follows — the film crisscrosses among wintry locations, arriving nowhere in particular as it reaches for a full-circle perspective.
The actors, a mix of stars and lesser-known performers, try to inject the material with emotional urgency — notably Anthony Hopkins, in the only effective subplot, and Jude Law and Rachel Weisz, as married Londoners each seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
Law plays Michael, who on a business trip to Vienna books the services of a Slovakian prostitute (Lucia Siposova) but is diverted from sealing the deal. We're meant to understand that he's really not that kind of guy anyway, given his nervous demeanor and phone chats with his young daughter.
Rose (Weisz, who starred in Mereilles' "The Constant Gardener") is a hotshot magazine editor — is there any other kind? — who's ending an affair with a young Brazilian photographer (Juliano Cazarré), but not before his girlfriend, Laura (Maria Flor), leaves him.
During Laura's flight out of London and subsequent layover in snowbound Denver, the film comes closest to generating an involving drama. The traveler's state of in-between, suggested in the business hotels and bars of Vienna, becomes the nation-less condition of people stuck in a shut-down airport.
Her impulsiveness enhanced by alcohol, Laura befriends two men: her seatmate (Hopkins), who's on a thankless search for a long-missing daughter, and a twitchy sex offender (Ben Foster), just released from prison. The latter element is indicative of the movie's strained flirtation with danger, amid lots of talk about what it means to be a good man.
But in the brief connection between Laura and the older man (as he's identified in the credits), strangers grieving in different ways, there's a touch of poignancy.
Hopkins' character is the most fully realized in the movie, complete with a monologue that the actor makes work, even if its carpe diem message-mongering is as unconvincing as most everything else in "360."