A couple of weeks ago, Mickey Rourke confided in a blogger from Vulture that his movie “Passion Play” was a clunker, and that his comments about co-star Megan Fox being one of the best actresses ever only applied to the women “that I worked with.” He backpedaled not long afterward by assuring Vulture that he adores Fox, although he held off on defending the movie itself. Too bad his logic’s a bit backward – “Passion Play” holds up as entertaining drama, but Fox approaches everything as if auditioning for another movie, one that’s got a different agenda than this one. At the end of the day, she does more damage than Rourke’s words ever could.
In all fairness, she’s got a pretty challenging character on her hands: Lily’s the most beautiful attraction in Sam’s (Rhys Ifans) freak show, somebody who wouldn’t even belong if it weren’t for those wings growing out of her back. When jazz artist Nate Poole (Rourke) happens upon her after escaping a gunman (a fleeting Chuck Liddell) a mob boss named Happy (Bill Murray) hires to do him in, he asks if she’d consider a life beyond the glass wall Sam keeps her behind. Even if she did, Sam isn’t inclined to let her go that easily.
Nate sees her as more than a charity case, though. He’s making arrangements behind Lily’s back to hand her over to Happy, hoping that her earning power as a carnival attraction will make them even for the affair Nate had with his wife. Naturally, the deal becomes less attractive as Lily and Nate get closer, a development the movie depends on a bit too much for chemistry as uninteresting as this. You’d think getting Fox to appear in a sex scene would’ve been an excellent decision from a mercenary perspective, but given the art-theater clientele these films cater to, hiring her was probably a last-ditch effort to attract a few die-hards.
Even if Mitch Glazer’s script doesn’t communicate the depth that makes the idea behind the whole thing so intriguing, let no one accuse Rourke and Murray of not carrying their weight. Murray holds up better in light of the fact that he intimidates Fox’s character into frigid silence, but at least Rourke doesn’t allow her to drag him down that far. It’s enough to make “Passion Play” worth taking a chance on – just be forewarned that however you feel about it, it’s a safe bet that Fox isn’t going to make good on whatever you coughed up to see her. Her character’s the main attraction at a carnival, after all.
This article originally appeared on AllMediaNY.com