An American diplomat and his fiancée venture into the sordid underworld of sex and pornography in Budapest, Hungary to find out who is blackmailing them with a porno video taken of them with a prostitute.
To foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a face-transplant surgery and assumes the identity of a ruthless terrorist. But the plan backfires when the same criminal impersonates the cop with the same method.
Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.
Private investigator Tom Welles is hired by the recently widowed Mrs. Christian who has found a startling pornographic film in her late husband's possessions. In the film a teenage girl is apparently killed and Welles is pretty sure it's a genuine snuff film. He takes the case, first going through records of runaways finally identifying the girl and learning that she may have run off to California. There he enters the seedy underworld of pornography with the help of Max California, a porn store clerk. His principal clue is the masked man who killed the girl as he has a unique tattoo on his hand. He soon finds the culprits but there is little satisfaction in resolving the mystery. Written by
Wow, this is a tough subject but not as sordid a film as I figured it would be, although be warned the last 30 minutes are really rough in spots. Speaking of spots, this is a bloody movie in spots, too and very profane after the first 40 minutes. Yet, despite the unpleasant nature of the story (making a "snuff film" - filming the killing of people) it's a riveting one, well-acted and doesn't overdo the violence. The characters in here are some of the most despicable you could find - killer and porn kings.
Even our hero here, played by Nicholas Cage, starts off as a clean-cut fairly straight dude, and changes for the worst, too. Joaquin Phoenix has a good line in here, with the prophetic statement, "The devil doesn't change; he changes you."
James Gandolfini and Peter Stormare play characters about as bad you'll ever find in a movie. This film is not, as they say, for all tastes. It will turn off a lot of people but it is interesting and good revenge story, if you like that sort of thing and know what you're in for before watching this.
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