The good news? Eighty years young, Clint Eastwood is still very much in the game, prepping an awards-bait, Leo DiCaprio-starring biopic of J. Edgar Hoover for 2012.
The bad news? In the meantime, we have this effort. Hereafter follows the separate stories of three strangers in three different cities.
In Paris, a near-death experience prompts TV journalist Marie (Cécile De France) to begin researching a book on the afterlife. In San Francisco, Matt Damon plays reluctant psychic George.
While in London, a family tragedy turns schoolboy Marcus (Frankie McLaren) into prey for every charlatan with a Ouija board.
Putting Roland Emmerich in his place, the opening tsunami sequence is undeniably thrilling. Trouble is, what follows struggles to live up to it.
Instead, ceaseless continent-hopping forces us to abandon each storyline for another just as it picks up pace, while the narrative threads are hastily tied in a clumsy bow at the end. Unless, of course, you’re willing to interpret clunky coincidence as ‘destiny’, in which case, perhaps, it’s all very spiritual.
The 12-year-old McLarens (Frankie and real-life brother George, who plays his on-screen twin Jason) often sound more like they’re stiffly reciting verse in assembly than acting in a movie.
Luckily Eastwood, who is definitely old enough to know better, directs with enough confidence to give even material this patchy the gloss of quality.
Hereafter does have its moments – France’s performance is moving, while the scene where Damon discovers cooking-class partner Bryce Dallas Howard’s troubled past hints at the hard-hitter this could have been.
Scripted by an unusually solemn Peter Morgan (The Queen), Hereafter’s fatal flaw isn’t bad filmmaking, it’s po-faced pomposity.
What might have been a heavy thriller is too stodgy to entertain and too silly to take seriously.