Part heist picture, part farce, part whodunit, and all frantic genre exercise for its own sake, Flypaper builds off the hooky premise of two simultaneous bank robberies. One group of thieves is of the Hans Gruber-in-Die-Hard variety, high-tech and professional, with fancy steel-cased laptops, helmets with night-vision goggles, and enough firepower to blast their way through any barricade. The other are a pair of redneck, smash-and-grab types who appear deep into the 600s on a list of Most Wanted for Grand Larceny. Written by Scott Moore and Jon Lucas, the team responsible for The Hangover, Flypaper mingles these two parties with the bank staff, but the sprawling ensemble yields to a story that’s so heavily worked-over, it doesn’t get much of a chance to breathe. Everything and everyone acts as cogs in a relentless plot machine that keeps twisting and twisting like an annoying little gizmo on Christmas morning.
Near closing time, bank teller Ashley Judd deals with one last customer, played by Patrick Dempsey, a Rain Man type who wants his $100 bill broken down into quirky permutations of quarters, dimes, and nickels. Meanwhile, two heist jobs develop around them: The high-tech crew, led by Mekhi Phifer, wants to penetrate the vault; the rednecks, played by Tim Blake Nelson and Pruitt Taylor Vince, want to blow up the ATMs and walk away with whatever cash goes unscorched. Dempsey works out a truce between the dueling thieves, but his overactive mind—which suggests ADD, OCD, autism, and the absence of medication—brings out his inner Columbo, and his amateur sleuthing puts Judd and her co-workers in danger.
Moore and Lucas have worked hard to orchestrate the various double, triple, and quadruple crosses that spin out in the third act, but the task is made easier by their inability to sketch any character beyond a few telling details. There’s never any time to question whether duplicity might be in a person’s nature—everyone here is capable, but they have no depth. Though it attempts a modern indie “edge,” Flypaper more closely resembles Agatha Christie by way of Clue, but it’s strained and overeager, cued to a Dempsey performance that jitters and buzzes around like a fruit fly. After a while, viewers will want to reach for the swatter.