The Skulls

The Skulls begins with text stating that secret societies exist on certain Ivy League campuses, then makes the shocking disclosure that secret societies are different than fraternities in that their activities are kept secret from the public (hence their name). Such a double-dose of the obvious would seem to suffice, but the first five minutes of The Skulls are nevertheless devoted to further discussion of secret societies and their functions, a fitting opening for a film that never stops insulting its audience's intelligence. A thriller so far-fetched that it makes its transparent model, The Firm, look like a work of gritty neo-realism, The Skulls stars the bland Joshua Jackson as a plucky orphan attending an elite Ivy League school. Invited to join the titular secret society by a shadowy group that includes judge Craig T. Nelson and senator William L. Petersen (behaving and speaking, for some reason, like a refined Southern belle), Jackson soon finds himself living the good life. His happiness is short-lived, however, as his investigative-reporter best friend and roommate (Hill Harper) does some ill-advised snooping around The Skulls' headquarters, leading to tragic consequences. It doesn't make sense that a malevolent, all-seeing secret society would invite a poor outsider with a journalist best friend to join its ranks but, then again, just about everything in this trainwreck shows a profound contempt for logic and plausibility. Riddled with plot holes, indifferently acted, and devoid of a single well-developed character, The Skulls is worthless. Last week's crushingly awful teen sex romp Whatever It Takes looked like a formidable candidate for March's worst youth-oriented film. In its own brainless, handsomely filmed way, The Skulls is every bit as bad.

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