(Part 16 Of An Ongoing Series)
I’m not surprised this country has so much violence; I’m surprised it has so little.
Vann Siegert (Owen Wilson)
The wicked, über-1999 trailer for The Minus Man is awfully clever, even if it is a smidgen misleading.
The trailer does a great job making you want to see Hampton Fancher’s film adaptation of Lew McCreary’s novel, and the film deserves to be seen. Yet while The Minus Man surely has its moments of twisted humor, it’s not quite the black comedy implied by the trailer’s punchline. The movie’s more like its serial-killer protagonist Vann Siegert- quiet, mild-mannered, charming, and haunting. In very 1999 fashion, Vann’s played by aw-shucks-ma’am poster boy Owen Wilson, and his psychopathy has a peculiar phantasmic quality. He may rationalize his cold-blooded murders (they’re not very violent- he poisons his victims and they slip into death like falling asleep), but he exhibits no joy in committing them, and he doesn’t exactly have an agenda. Murder’s just something he needs to do once in a while, like mowing the lawn. And when he’s not murdering, he’s generally an amiable and charismatic (albeit occasionally awkward) dude. You could snip out all the murder references in The Minus Man and end up with almost enough footage for a Sundance-ready romantic dramedy. In many ways, Vann Siegert’s more shudder-inducing than Hannibal Lecter or Seven‘s John Doe.
But the trailer is right about The Minus Man‘s knack for sticking in your head long after it’s over. Like: Would you sleep with Vann? And what’s the deal with the hair in the envelope? And did Vann actually see that cop on the highway? And who committed that final murder? And have you ever met a Vann Siegert in your own life? Or will you?