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Playing God Review

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A displaced surgeon is struck off for plying his trade under the influence of narcotics, and finds alternative employment under the watchful gaze of a master criminal.

★★★★★

David Duchovny has risen to the halcyon heights of the A-list on the back of his alter ego Agent Fox Mulder, making the difficult transition from small to large screen with a series of small roles before the inevitable movie treatment of The X-Files. But in Playing God, devoid of FBI shield and partner in weirdo crime-beating Agent Scully, Duchovny delivers a performance so contrived and lazy he looks as though he'd struggle to present Points Of View.

He plays Eugene, a displaced surgeon, struck off for plying his trade under the influence of high-class narcotics, who finds alternative employment under the watchful gaze of master criminal Raymond (Hutton). Working as a gangster's paramedic, Eugene becomes entangled with Raymond's current squeeze Claire (Jolie) — who or may not hold the key to his redemption — as well as avoiding the attentions of the FBI and the increasingly unhinged Raymond. At the same time Eugene hatches a plan of fox-like cunning to expedite himself from his current predicament. Hutton works well as the violent psychopath. Jolie is good, too — even if her lips have never been in more danger of dragging on the floor. And Britpacker Andrew McTiernan nearly steals the show as Raymond's henchman Cyril, who's two-handed gunplay and Pythonesque British mannerisms finally bring this tired looking thriller to life.

The problem with Playing God, then, isn't the supporting cast or the slow-paced direction — it lies simply with Duchovny's performance. Looking uncomfortable and out of his depth, he seems to be taking The Method too far as he wanders around looking tired and lethargic in this criminally deficient feature, devoid of its leading man's obvious talents. Life beyond Agent Mulder, then, is still cast in the shadow of doubt.

A criminally deficient thriller which fails to propel David Duchovny into the big-screen A-list.