Well, it's unpredictable, - you've gotta give it that. By far the best thing about Best Laid Plans is how it constantly messes with your expectations, shifting between dialogue-driven indie flick, dusky old thriller and, eventually, a less moneyed take on The Game.
Nick and Lissa's overall scheme is clearly insane: Nick and Bryce go to a bar and Nick gets busy buying the drinks; glamorous 'stranger' Lissa enters and lightly hits on the easily led Bryce; the two split from Nick and go back to Bryce's surrogate place, where they have sex; Lissa cries date rape and blackmails Bryce into handing over a few of the house's valuables. Money problem solved. What could possibly go wrong? Sadly, things don't pan out quite so neatly, mainly because Bryce's response to the rape accusation is a little less passive than expected.
Witherspoon is a sly, elegantly wasted Lissa, while Brolin is rowdy and suitably unpleasant. But Nivola (Pollux Troy in Face/Off) is perfect; ambling through his troubles, colouring Nick with a consistently world-weary resolve in the face of any level of adversity. He's the type who'd just roll his eyes and tut if someone suddenly stuck a gun in his face.
You could interpret the lurching tone as lack of focus, and there's very little real substance to the plot. But, in this age of comic-book teen-frippery, it's refreshing to find a story that resists the urge to soften its characters or settings. Director Barker (he's British, of course) is totally comfortable with the bleak browns and shadowy mauves, and the film is all the more numb and brooding for it.
So, mostly straight-up, but with a huge, neck-cricking twist at the tip of the tale, which you'll either laugh at and go with, or sneer at and wave off as utter bollocks. Try it.