What's really going on in this time-twisting, pseudo-philosophical urban crime parable that wants to be 'Tarantino does Run, Lola, Run' so badly it hurts? Your guess is as good as mine. Essentially, the Vantage Point-style (I won't invite the comparison to the infinitely superior Rashômon) overlapping story lines all revolve around the theft of the Shroud of Turin (Jesus' burial cloth) from the Vatican. The FBI(?) agents pursuing it (Christian Slater & Nicky Whelan) stumble across a bundle of eccentric characters, including the manic pixie dream girl bike messenger obliviously transporting it (Q'orianka Kilcher), a vengeful thug out for blood (Anthony Anderson), a pair of philosophical homeless men (Christopher Walken and In Bruges' Jordan Prentice), and a teen thieving his brother's baby food (Devon Gearhart)... all of whose lives are subtly, positively altered by the presence of Few (Tione Johnson), who comes with her own murky theological connotations. Muscling through the ensuing brain hurt to try to piece together the film isn't as much Few as 'Phew!'
It sounds interesting enough on paper, and Marucci's confidently stylized filmmaking lends some slick intersections of soundtrack and cinematography (the highlight is Walken fantasizing a couple of botched robberies, shot like a TV crime bulletin), as well as alarmingly non-sequitur bursts of startling violence. The film's script, however, is madder than a sack full of ferrets, and more concerned with sounding hip at all costs (it doesn't) than answering any of the film's logistical questions (it still doesn't), let alone much sense of theme or cohesion. That said, it's not an outright unpleasant watch, and Marucci gets good use out of his grimy New Orleans locations, with some flashy aerial establishing shots of the city modeled after Spike Lee's bombastic Do The Right Thing
again, just not as good.
The ensemble cast are all sturdy work but largely unremarkable. Slater's police procedural vignette is the most disappointing, too mired in unclear context and snarling overacting to generate much excitement. The noteworthy exceptions are the adorably flighty Kilcher and magnetically calm Johnson, both reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai characters. Then there's the incomparable Walken, garbed like a homeless Silent Bob, and sporting a "Clone Jesus" t-shirt. He works wonders with his hepcat dialogue, infusing his oddball conspiracy theorist with more riveting conviction and subtle pathos than the material warrants.
At its best moments, The Power of Few is lively, pleasantly beguiling, and even threatens to raise some interesting questions about fate, spirituality, and so on. Still, Marucci's monolithic dialogue and overcomplicated, under-explained plot are so alienating that it's nigh impossible to connect with any of the characters or scenarios for more than fleeting moments. You certainly can't fault Marucci for taking chances, but with a film that feels overlong at only 96 minutes, leaving the viewer still scrabbling for a point at its conclusion, the film's real power is how little it manages to accomplish with so much going on.