The nicest thing to be said about Cat Run might be that it doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to become. Torn messily between international intrigue, detective story, and buddy comedy, the film never comes close to reconciling these different elements, a rift that becomes increasingly significant as it gains in energy and noise. Yet the bigger issue is that, at times, it can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a movie at all. Steeped in a bland commercial aesthetic, fixating on picture-postcard views and bared breasts with equal slackness, this is little more than a collection of bad ideas glued hastily together.
What this means is a thinly connected series of set pieces, concepts, and crazy ideas, all inspired or sucked wholesale from other sources, both in pop culture and the collective consciousness. Cat Run is a non-discerning recycler of junk, opening with a familiar passage of drunk politicians cavorting with high-end prostitutes, climaxing via gunshots and explosions, ending soon after a joke involving an exposed penis and a kilt.
Directed by John Stockwell (Cougar from Top Gun in a previous life), Cat Run seems mostly concerned with looking expensive and cool, gorging itself on the technical possibilities of high-end digital while hardly bothering with anything else. There’s at least some element of directorial style, but this is pushed toward a pinnacle of awkward, autistic virtuosity, which assures that nearly every bullet will be shot in slow motion, its arc traced into and out of someone’s head. Far less time is spent on shaping characters that go anywhere beyond broad stereotypes.
Possibly conceived by a committee of teenage boys, the film wears its juvenile, sniper-rifles-and-boobs-oriented fixations so boldly on its sleeve that it seems pointless to fault it for them. It’s a partially defensible train wreck, one that at least isn’t boring or predictable, but by the end the fanatical action and political mumbo-jumbo have spiraled into a realm of insanity so divorced from reality that the entire thing becomes draining.
It’s a sure sign of something when the most stable character in sight is a Desert Storm veteran, formerly homeless, triple-amputee receptionist played by D.L. Hughley. Under more normal circumstances, the eventual fate of that last remaining limb might become the crucible by which Cat Run would be judged. Instead, it’s already stirred up such a mess of mindless cruelty, incoherence, and silliness that nothing it can dish out seems to matter at all.