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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | May 5, 2006

Justin Timberlake was getting in to acting. This was what I read in a magazine. Thus is the fate of all pop stars, and uber-pop stars, and wannabe pop stars, or people the press claim were pop stars when we never even really knew they were (ahem—Jojo), but I was annoyed. Then I discovered he was starring in a film with Kevin Spacey, and Morgan Freeman. Then I was angered. Then I discovered the film he’d starred in boasted him as giving a very good performance. I was angered further. And then I discovered his supposed break out film was stalled and then released directly to DVD. I was mixed. On the one hand, Timberlake’s “breakout” was really just nothing but a dud, yet on the other hand, his immense lack of talent brought down many excellent actors with him. What’s the moral here folks? Don’t star in a film with anyone who was once in a boy band. Period.

Fading away from your career is a lot like balding. You either do it gracefully and with style, or you fight it kicking and screaming and look damn pathetic doing so. Guess which category J-Tim falls under? Good ol’ Cameron must have really paid off some people. Either way, “Edison” or “Edison Force” is your usual starter vehicle for someone looking to break in to acting. City corruption. Crooked cops. Narration in whispers. A murky city. Hand me a pillow, there. “Edison” is a shameless mix of “Copland”, and “Training Day” which means at one point you’ll surely hear someone call another a “Crooked Cop”, and there will be monologuing crooked cops, and there will definitely be someone ranting about justice, and city government, and you know the routine. Timberlake plays high-pitched hero Pollack, a talented but loose cannon of a news reporter who wants to do “what’s right” and gets in over his head.

He uncovers a scandal involving corrupt cops and—do I have to continue explaining it to you? You saw it in “L.A. Confidential”, and “City Hall”, and many other thrillers of the like. But, I bet you’re wondering: Does Timberlake give a good performance? No. It’s an embarrassing performance, actually. His delivery of one-liners are clunky, you can almost feel him trying not to look at the camera, and if you close your eyes he and Perabo’s voice sound so similar, it’s creepy. But, I’m being too hard on JT, I mean he looks like he’s trying, but he just can’t keep up with anyone here. The plot is just standard fare you’d find anywhere. Pollack is a boring hero who really has a minimal back story, and a personality based on broad characterization. The film is so intent on turning Pollack into an instant hero that it never focuses on him, or puts Justin to the test acting-wise.

He’s almost immediately this crusader fighting against the mustache twirling evil officers who delight in raiding illegal operations and have their way with pillaging and plundering. Pollack is the idyllic hero who must stop them with the printed word! They twirl their mustache, cackle, and tie the heroine on the railroad tracks, while Pollack bats a brow, fights for liberty, and breaks in to song. Kidding. Thankfully it never goes that far, here. Justin has dignity. Right. And what of the actual actors here? Piper Perabo continues her downhill slide playing Pollack’s love interest/conscience, Morgan Freeman sadly continues playing the mentor roles as the radical Moses, who guides young Dudley Doright in writing what needs to be written, and Kevin Spacey is Moses’ friend and leader of the corrupt officers and the writer can never really decide whether he’s a villain or a hero. But Spacey seems to be clawing his way through the mediocrity to pull in some hint of a good performance.

Fact is, regardless of whom you cast, “Edison” is average thriller fodder you’d find on late night cable, except with a better cast, and bigger budget. It’s clunky, cheesy, filled to the brim with plot holes, lapses in logic, mediocre dialogue, a drab story, and it becomes all too apparent why this was never released theatrically in the first place. What a blow to the film world.

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