For the second time this week we have a trashy-glossy action movie with a familiar, muscled-up personality narrating the story. First it was Mark Wahlberg, whose voiceover in “Infinite” was so listless it sounded as if someone had awakened him from a power nap after a three-hour workout, and now it’s Nick Cannon taking the polar opposite approach in “The Misfits,” inflecting each line reading with such game show host-level hype, it’s as if he’s afraid we’re the ones who are going to drift off to sleep if he can’t hold our interest.
He might not be wrong.
At least “Infinite” made an attempt to be of its time. “The Misfits” is directed by 1990s action movie warhorse Renny Harlin (“Die Hard 2,” “Cliffhanger”) and features alleged humor about foreign accents and Americans and Western Europeans riding camels in the desert — not to mention a “joke” where the punchline is about a “fat lady.” It’s an intermittently entertaining endeavor thanks mostly to the effortlessly suave lead performance by Pierce Brosnan as a career thief who looks like he wakes up wearing a jacket with a pocket square and with his hair perfectly coiffed, but the action sequences are ho-hum, the editing is stunningly clumsy, and the main heist is so cartoonishly ridiculous we don’t even believe the actors believe it’s possible.
Meet the Misfits, a small band of Robin Hood criminals led by Cannon’s Ringo, a master of disguise (though his disguises often look as if they were purchased from a Halloween pop-up store), and yes, he was named after Ringo Starr of the Beatles, which leads to an endless, unfunny parade of Ringo/Beatles references. (When Ringo isn’t in disguise, he’s always wearing tight, sleeveless undershirts, so we can be reminded of Cannon’s jacked physique.) The gang also includes the obligatory tech wizard, named Prince (Rami Jaber), who might just be a prince; the charming explosives expert Wick (Mike Angelo), and the martial arts expert Violet (Jamie Chung), who flies about as if she’s in a wire-work kung fu movie, easily dispensing of four, five, six henchmen at a time. (Violet hates men. When a man hits on her, she says, “I don’t date men. I kill them.”)
Whereas the Misfits steal from the rich and corrupt and literally give it all away to the poor, Brosnan’s Richard Pace is a suave career criminal who specializes in luxury hotel robberies and keeps all the spoils for himself. Nevertheless, the gang recruits Pace to lead their most ambitious effort yet: stealing a cache of gold a terrorist has stashed beneath a Middle Eastern prison run by Tim Roth’s Schultz. The only thing more ridiculous than the con games the Misfits pull off just to set up the job is the heist itself, which is filmed in such a disjointed manner it makes it nearly impossible to care about what’s happening because it makes such little sense. Equally uninvolving is a hokey storyline involving Pace and his estranged adult daughter (Hermione Cornfield), who is actually named Hope to remind us there might be hope yet for the selfish and irresponsible Pace.
Maybe so, but there’s no hope for “The Misfits.”