Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins) is a multi-millionaire owner of a pharmaceuticals company that has recently been the subject of controversy when it was alleged that a drugs trial they conducted led to the deaths of over two hundred people. But this is like water off a duck's back for him, he's too rich to care, though he does have some interests other than money that stir him, such as the woman he is seeing, Emily Hynes (Malin Akerman). However, the last time he saw her they had an argument, and now he is looking at his phone and seeing a photograph of her with a bruised face and a message demanding a ransom be paid. Will he stand for this, or will he make his own plans to get even?
It really doesn't matter one way or the other considering how Misconduct turned out, possibly the biggest flop in the careers of not only Anthony Hopkins but Al Pacino as well. You will search in vain for a shot that featured them simultaneously, so you were not even offered the thrill of watching these two heavyweights verbally spar electrifyingly for the first time, yet that was not the movie's biggest crime. More egregious was that it set itself up as a tale of intrigue and passion, but could barely muster the quality threshold of Animal Instincts II, in spite of securing a cinema release on the strength of the aforementioned ageing alpha male stars. That release infamously could not break the hundred quid mark in the United Kingdom.
All of which designated it as one of 2016's biggest turkeys, worse still than some of the junk Hopkins and Pacino had been churning out in their Autumn years simply to earn a paycheque with the minimum of effort. Well, maybe not the minimum: Anthony punched out a bit part actor (as part of the plot) and Al got to try out his Southern gentleman accent, which made him sound like a subdued and contemplative Foghorn Leghorn, but other than that the drama was carried by the less famous cast members. Even so, it's not as if they were rank amateurs, most of the main actors had a good few credits to their name where they had proven themselves capable of delivering lines with conviction, so what went wrong here?
Why did everyone in this behave like Martians, with only a glancing recognition as to how real people carried themselves? Was it the direction from Shintaro Shimosawa, whose camera frequently lost interest in the action on the screen and would start drifting away from characters as they were talking, or not include them in the frame at all as the hapless thespian delivered their lines? Or was it those lines themselves, which the actors utterly failed to bring to any form of convincing life, probably because they had read the screenplay and were as baffled as to the motivations of anyone in it as the unfortunates who took a chance on watching it? Not to mention Federico Jusid's music that sounded like it had been stolen from a different movie. The more you tried to work out why any of it happened, twists especially, the less sense it made, a computer program would have concocted a better set of logical events.
As far as it was possible to surmise, Emily tries to seduce an old flame, Ben Cahill (Josh Duhamel), to embroil him in the plot to expose Denning's corruption at his business, apparently because the authorities don't bother with investigating sudden mass death when there are corporations involved, but Ben is a married lawyer whose spouse Charlotte (Alice Eve) is a harassed doctor at the local hospital. The manner of dragging her into the conspiracy at the last minute was such an insult to the intelligence, not to mention a lift from an actual blockbuster of twenty-five years before, that if you made it that far without developing a constant frown of bafflement you deserved an award for bravery. Also showing up were Julia Stiles as a tough security expert who proves swearing is not her forte, and most confounding of all, Lee Byung-hun as a motorcycle-riding assassin who is dying of some unnamed disease, but is able to find the energy to murder his victims for no reason included in the film. By the end, where we were invited to accept the police turning a blind eye to Ben killing people himself because he had decent intentions, and the whole conspiracy never needing to have happened if the two evil characters in cahoots had kept quiet and not deliberately sowed the seeds of their own destruction, and you had one almighty shitefest.