A film with the title of “The Big Bang” has to include some references to physics, right? That has to be a rule. And if it isn’t, The Big Bang certainly wants to make it one. There are so many references that you might get the impression that the film is smarter than it really is. If you’re overwhelmed by terms you might not be familiar with, you might start to appreciate the film simply because you don’t understand what it’s talking about. Truthfully, it is kind of an intelligent neo-noir, but not because of its references to science.
It’s smart because of its plot, which has enough turns to always keep you guessing, and because of its lead character, Ned (Antonio Banderas), who has a smart mouth. He begins the film as a captive man, held that way by three detectives, Poley (William Fichtner), Skeres (Delroy Lindo) and Frizer (Thomas Kretschmann). They’re interrogating him, believing he knows something about something, and are determined to find out both somethings. He then begins the tale of how he, a private investigator, set out on a quest to find a woman, and what he’d find as he got closer to his goal.
Mostly what he finds are some cameos by semi-recognizable actors/entertainers. Snoop Dogg plays a porn director who gets one scene of dialogue, and one scene of hanging dead from a ceiling. James Van Der Beek gets one scene before he also exits. Sam Elliot, Autumn Reeser, Seinna Guillory and the three detectives all get a bit more screen time, but they’re hardly leads. It’s Banderas’ flick from start to finish, and everyone else is just along for the ride.
Part of the problem that comes from this narration style is that we know Ned has to be alive in order for him to tell us the story. He can’t die early on, or even be gravely injured, because it means that he can’t be captured by these detectives and forced to tell us the bulk of the plot. It removes a lot of tension from a few of the scenes, although his snarky retorts to everyone at all times also does that, so I suppose it’s not big loss.
I actually quite liked Ned as a character, and not only because he was being played by Antonio Banderas. He’s a suave man who knows exactly how much he can get away with in any situation. His wisecracking is about half of the reason I enjoyed The Big Bang at all. I associate well with this type of person, and making him the lead made me happy. The sarcasm drips from his mouth, ready to strike at any given instant, and it’s so enjoyable to listen to him taunt everyone around him, even when not in a position to do so.
One could probably make the argument that he’s an unreliable narrator, and that he didn’t actually say these things to these people at the time. I don’t buy that, however, as he says the same sort of things to the detectives, too, and still somehow manages to get away with it. “Diamonds,” he tells them. “If you kill me, you’ll never learn about the diamonds.” That is his safety word, and he clings to it like a monkey to a tree: Loosely and inconsistently, often swinging away from his safety net in pursuit of higher, better ones. That simile didn’t work at all, now did it?
The second half of why The Big Bang didn’t feel like a waste of my time was the plot, which introduced a lot of cameos that I found fun, and also had a couple of twists in the story which were enjoyable. I wasn’t putting in a lot of brainpower while watching this, admittedly, but I was surprised once or twice by the plot. And, yes, seeing Snoop Dogg and Sam Elliot appear did make me giggle, especially the latter, who plays a billionaire trying to create the God Particle.
I’m not sure The Big Bang is entirely successful, as it does a lot of meandering and appears to be building up to something more than it does, but I still had a good time. I suppose, in this day and age, I’m partial to any film trying to resurrect the film noir of old, even if it doesn’t do a great job. It’s not as thrilling and doesn’t boast the same sense of mystery and intrigue that one would hope for. But is it kind of clever and enjoyable? Sure, I think so.
I’ve heard from more than one person that Banderas’ dialogue was difficult to understand at times. I didn’t have much of a problem with it, to be honest, although he does have a fairly heavy accent and does mumble at times. You shouldn’t have any trouble understanding the plot anyway, so you don’t need to hear every word that Banderas says. All you really need are the sarcastic retorts that he throws left and right. And those come through clear as day.
The Big Bang is an enjoyable neo-noir that doesn’t take itself too seriously, throws a couple of plot twists your way, and has a few cameos that you’ll definitely appreciate, assuming you’re a fan of C-list actors. It’s really quite a funny film, in large part to Banderas’ character’s constant sarcasm in situations which do not require it. It has a bunch of physics references that some audience members will appreciate — while others will pick them apart and say “that’s not how it really works.” It meanders a touch, but overall, I had some fun with it.