Directed by: David Grovic

Starring: John Cusack, Robert De Niro, Rebecca Da Costa

Rated: R

"The Bag Man" is the sort of overheated film noir where characters exert an enormous amount of energy grappling over an irrelevant MacGuffin when their problems could be solved by just walking away.

Seriously, protagonist Jack (John Cusack) doesn't even know the contents of the bag that pompadoured villain Dragna (Robert De Niro) has paid him to pick up and deliver to a sleazebag motel. "Don't look in the bag," Dragna says, and Jack sticks to his word, even as he's hounded and shot.

It's the kind of movie where characters say things like, "Does Kojak cook kasha? No, Kojak sucks on Tootsie Pops," lines that land with a self-satisfied air that suggest everyone involved thought they were making pulpy, Quentin Tarantino-caliber entertainment and not a third-rate knockoff.

It's the type of picture in which a beautiful, statuesque woman (Rebecca Da Costa) just happens to be hanging around said sleazy, abandoned motel in a latex bustier, and shows way too much interest in our haggard, dirty, wounded anti-hero.

There's a certain amount of stylistic flair, though, in this atmospheric world of shadows and fog, neon signs, run-down cars and faded brake lights. Cusack has the stumbling, tortured everyman killer thing down to a science, while De Niro overacts just enough to suggest that he actually showed up mentally and physically on this job.

The thing is just so overheated, so stupid and so pointless that the positive qualities fall to the wayside.