In form a thriller, this feels more like an endurance test: so far-fetched, so encoded, so self-indulgent, it’s not apt to stir much curiosity or hope of satisfaction. Yet even though the course of action — from Madrid to Seville to the Spanish hinterland, in the company of a stone-faced, tight-mouthed hit man — might not be riveting or involving, it’s still followable and watchable, largely because director Jim Jarmusch (working with Wong Kar-wai’s cameraman, Christopher Doyle) demonstrates an eye for line and plane, and intermittently because of the phantom nude with a gun and a pair of Buddy Holly glasses (“Do you like my ass?”), made-to-order for the cover of a paperback potboiler. Aiming not for forward propulsion but for circumstantial fill-in, the film could teach a lesson or two to conventional thrillers, lessons in noticing the surroundings, soaking them up, settling into them. (“Sometimes,” observes a white-wigged, cowboy-hatted Tilda Swinton, “I like in films when people just sit there, not saying anything.” Words to the wise.) Then again it could, conversely, take a lesson or two from conventional thrillers. Isaach De Bankolé, Paz de la Huerta, Youki Kudoh, John Hurt, Gael García Bernal, Hiam Abbass, Bill Murray. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd
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