Pursuit review – barbecue-loving gangster dominates hacker thriller

<span>Photograph: Lionsgate</span>
Photograph: Lionsgate

This generically titled crime thriller revolves around standard-issue conflicts – warring drug lords, kidnapped loved ones, and so on – involving characters with names so generic they sound like they were generated by a screenwriting algorithm: Rick Calloway, Mike Breslin, Zoe Carter are just some of the dishwater-dull examples. But squint very hard and you might see a few imaginative or at least weird touches around the peripheries of the story, like little jocular Easter eggs snuck in by actors and editors working together.

For example Emile Hirsch, playing the aforementioned Rick Calloway, a facially tattooed master hacker from an old southern crime family led by paterfamilias Jack Calloway (John Cusack), plays the whole second half of the film as if he’s whacked up to the eyeballs on super-strong skunk. All his lines are delivered in an amused drone, and throughout the remainder of the film he looks like he’s waiting for all this shooting to stop so he can get a cheeseburger. That sort of goes with the fact that Cusack’s character seems to spend an inordinate amount of screen time grilling meat for his grandson while issuing orders to his lackeys.

Nominally, the story is about how Rick, busted in a crime, offers to use his super hacking skills to help out one of the cops who arrests him, to find the evil men who killed his pregnant wife (Alexandria DeBerry) a few months back. The cop, being a dull, standup guy refuses, but Rick escapes his custody when they are transporting him back to his home town. Rick is also looking for his own wife (kidnapped or perhaps just carelessly mislaid). After a very long slog where the two stories play out in parallel they finally collide in a climax full of pow-pow bang-bang sound effects and deliciously improbably bad marksmanship – the extras get shot but somehow never the main dudes.

Zoe Carter, by the way, is a local cop who has her own quiet agenda and is played by Elizabeth Faith Ludlow, a charismatic actor given nothing to do here really. Altogether this is the sort of film you could quietly sleep through on a long-haul flight and not miss anything.

• Pursuit is released on 12 June on digital platforms.