In "A Stranger in Paradise," hedge-fund hotshot Josh (Colin Egglesfield of "The Client List" and the "Melrose Place" TV reboot) narrowly evades an SEC investigation with an impromptu trip to Thailand, only to find thugs and crooked cops on his trail.
His brother, Paul (Stuart Townsend), runs a local hot spot and has shady dealings with the mob. The managing partner who urged Josh to take the vacation — who also happens to be Paul's college pal — vanishes along with the mob money he helped launder. Meanwhile, U.S. Justice Department agents arrive at the scene to further complicate the matter.
Corrado Jay Boccia's directorial debut strikes as almost passable, with a relatively known cast and elaborate stunts. But his inexperience rears its ugly head as the film never musters real suspense and urgency, even when it progressively thrusts its characters into a car chase, a foot race, a gunfight and the torture chamber.
The filmmaker's warped priorities consign it to Cinemax territory. Besides the pedestrian caricatures of gangsters and strippers, Boccia doesn't make much of the inherent mystery and alienation of the Thai setting as Nicolas Winding Refn did with "Only God Forgives." Even the twists late in the plot underwhelm.
"A Stranger in Paradise."
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Playing: At Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.