A low-rent neo-noir propped up by descriptions of, rather than depictions of, sexual kink and an odd interest in quantum physics, The Big Bang doesn’t so much tweak the old formulas as reproduce them by rote. Starring Antonio Banderas as Los Angeles private eye Ned Cruz, the film provides the hard-nosed dick with a steady stream of world-weary wisecracks and an office illuminated by the garish light of a neon sign, all straight out of the neo-noir playbook. As are the scene where he arrives back at his office to find it trashed and the fact that everyone he talks to in his investigation of a missing stripper turns up dead. Nods to Laura (falling in love with a girl who he’s never met) and Kiss Me Deadly (nuclear apocalypse) only add to the sense of cinematic déjà vu.
A compendium of bad dialogue, worse acting, and blandly noirish settings (the ultra-mod police interrogation room from which Cruz recounts his adventures for a trio of corrupt cops), The Big Bang shifts from Los Angeles to a former Army base in New Mexico as dark rooms give way to pink skies. Peopled by billionaire science-lover Simon Kestral (Sam Elliott), who’s in search of something called the “God particle,” and a waitress (Autumn Reeser) who waxes poetic about electrons and quarks as she fucks, atomic country proves to be full of weirdos, but none too weird to divert much attention from the main storyline.
That has to do with Cruz’s tracking down of a mysterious woman who may not even exist for his thuggish Russian ex-con client. As Kestral gets ready to recreate the conditions that existed just after the big bang, Cruz seems to find his woman, only she professes to know nothing of the Russian. Convoluting their plot, director Tony Krantz and screenwriter Erik Jendresen are forced to rely too heavily on Banderas’s voiceover to explain what’s happening, thus robbing their narrative twists of any force.
Ultimately, the quantum-physics angle plays as little more than a faux-profound intrusion temporarily interrupting the mechanics of a pedestrian neo-noir. (“What is the divine mechanism that gives form and substance to all things?” Beats me.) Still, it does yield one gem in the humorously titled Planck’s Constant Café, and any film that lets us watch Snoop Dogg the porn director in action (sample on-set command: “All right, cum, for Chrissakes”) and James Van Der Beek as a Hollywood star who enjoys amphetamine-fueled sex with an albino little person is at least worth its weight in inadvertent hilarity.