Colin Hanks is an oddly unappealing romantic hero, as he projects a disgruntled peevishness that can suggest malevolence. I’ve felt protective of his characters’ various love interests—played by talented, lovely actresses like Anna Faris and Emily Blunt—over the years, just as I’ve wondered what hellish life disappointment has spurred these fictional women to assume that this fella might be a good idea as a lover and partner. Hanks isn’t a bad actor, and his line deliveries occasionally suggest the quicksilver timing of his father in his 1980s heyday, but he is one those performers who frequently feels miscast. And, to his credit, Hanks just might know this: He was terrific in a supporting turn as a priest with ambiguous motivations on the most recent season of Mad Men, and his role as a serial killer in Lucky allows him to tap the implied aggression that’s inappropriately unnerving in nice-guy parts.
Lucky, unfortunately, is terrible: overbearing, obnoxious, and boring. The film is a collection of consciously quirky indie tropes in place of any meaningful narrative, and you can practically see the notebook the filmmakers may have written in during a brainstorming session in a college screenwriting seminar: “A serial killer inadvertently wins the lottery! His overbearing, gold-digging co-worker and unrequited love finally notices him! Nosy yuppie neighbors! Meddling mother! Prick employer! Irony!” Actually, that’s a serviceable idea for a jet-black comedy, the sort of the thing that might make for a Ladykillers (either version), a Used Cars, or a Burn After Reading in the right hands.
Lucky, however, can’t commit to that sort of heightened amoral tone, as it tries to ensure that we actually root for Ben (Hanks) as he kills young women in an effort to quell the buried, contradictory urges that his attraction to Lucy (Ari Graynor) stirs in him. Director Gil Cates Jr. frequently aims for an atmosphere of casual evil that presumably means to comment on the usual themes relating to the emasculation inherent in the relentlessly competitive nine-to-five tedium of attempting to climb the corporate ladder to reach the expensive house, pert wife, and perfectly manicured lawn at the top. But Cates’s half-assed approach (half unfunny comedy, half un-scary sort of horror movie) is actually somewhat offensive, as it exhibits surprisingly little feeling for the victims. A movie that asks you to laugh at a creep (with whom you’re also supposed to identify) murdering innocent young women out of some pathetic attempt at self-actualization better be damn funny, and Lucky isn’t by an exceedingly long shot.