By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
After watching Vince Vaughn deliver nearly the same kind of performance for several films, I used to complain that his shtick was growing stale and tiresome. Now that he has toned down his acting for his last film (The Delivery Man) and this latest comedy, I almost miss his overplayed fast-talking routine. When he performed using his old reliable, it had energy and excitement. Now that he has abandoned it, his acting has been dull and stale. It’s as if he simply shows up and says his lines with little or no heart. This is just one of the problems I have with Vaughn’s latest, a flat and unimaginative film titled Unfinished Business.
Vaughn stars as Dan Trunkman, a frustrated businessman who breaks away from a large, successful company to start a modest one of his own with co-workers Timothy (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike (Dave Franco). After a year of struggling to stay afloat, Dan has managed to get the company a major deal in Berlin, Germany. The trio take a trip overseas to get their handshakes to seal the deal: however, their former boss Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller) also arrives to make a counter offer. The startled men work hard to make a winning presentation and play hard to maintain their sanity.
Written by Steve Conrad and directed by Ken Scott, Unfinished Business does actually have a few funny moments, but some of the humor and gags get overplayed a bit while the others fall flat. I’m sure I wasn’t the only audience member to feel this way as I noticed the awkward silences after some of these moments. In addition, the story and plot play out rather predictably.
Besides Vaughn, I was quite surprised that the cast had some talented names whose gifts are mostly wasted here. Tom Wilkinson is a genuine talent and he has so little to do in this movie, except mope about his sad life and act horny when the mood strikes. The movie also includes Nick Frost and James Marsden whose characters could have been portrayed by any low rent actors. Their performances are not bad, but their characters are so poorly written and developed. Any movie that makes Nick Frost seem dull is in big trouble. Dave Franco probably delivers the best and most energetic performance of the film, but his character’s gags grow old after awhile and are actually a tad offensive. Franco plays a slightly mentally challenged young man and I can easily see some people who deal with this type of struggle feeling insulted.
I personally feel more insulted with the transparent plot and the fact that Vaughn just phoned in his performance. It makes me wonder if Vaughn has nothing more to offer his audiences as an actor. A reinvention of his career has been overdue, but not one that simply mutes all energy and excitement in his performances. Ever since I first noticed Vaughn in Swingers, I knew that he has something special. When firing on all cylinders, he can have a tremendous screen presence and a razor sharp with. I just feel that he has taken an easier route with his career and has now grown tired of it. If McConaughey can reinvigorate his career, so can Vince Vaughn. He is so money, but has seemed to have forgotten this.