by Rob DiCristino
The foundational principles of Film Noir have always been cynicism, detachment, angst, and existential frustration. Through this lens, our world is cold and unforgiving, a derelict void to which we’ve all been doomed to putz around meaninglessly until the sweet release of death. Self-interest is the only logical approach — love is foolish and fleeting; cooperation and harmony are naive illusions. But rather than get lost in the hopeless darkness, Film Noir’s best anti-heroes have embraced this nihilistic perspective and used it to shield themselves from encroaching dangers. That can’t-beat-them-join-them, takes-one-to-know-one attitude grants the audience permission to identify with the likes of Phillip Marlow, Mia Wallace, and Jake Gittes; In a world full of monsters, they’re the kind of smart, smug, and stylish monsters we’d hope to be. In a world teetering on the edge of chaos, their merciless wit and street savvy keep them one step ahead of the next poor schmuck.
The World’s End succeed in ways it shouldn’t), and the doomed and complicated Bill is a welcome addition to his filmography. The real standout, though, is probably Mike Myers (yes, that one) as the limping “Supe,” an all-purpose clean-up man in the employ of Mr. Franklyn. It might take you a solid act to realize (as it did me) that it’s Myers under the makeup, and while his larger role in the plot is telegraphed far too soon to be interesting — another drawback of the film’s limited scope — his performance is subdued and earnest enough that we forget Austin Powers and Shrek just long enough to appreciate it.