This is based on a relatively well-known William Gibson story that appeared in an early issue of Omni magazine. I don’t think I read it when it was published, but I’m going to have to track it down and read it. Maybe then I’ll be able to figure out this movie.
The first half is pretty cool. Christopher Walken stars as Fox, a colorful con man who had his back broken by some angry marks years ago. While Fox does the brainwork, his partner X (Willem DeFoe) does the legwork. They hatch a plan to lure a genius scientist named Hiroshi (Yashitaka Amano) away from his corporation, risking their necks for the chance at millions. To do this, they enlist prostitute Sandii (Asia Argento, making a much more convincing whore than the detective she played in The Stendahl Syndrome) to seduce Hiroshi into giving up his old life.
This intriguing set-up, with a backdrop of near-future international locations, is pretty much wasted by the ultra-low budget and the indulgences of far-out director Abel Ferrara (The Addiction). Most of the action takes place offscreen, while the film concentrates on (admittedly amusing) dialogue between DeFoe and Walken, and the love affair between DeFoe and Argento. We get only the barest glimpse of what happens as the plan succeeds, even less of a glimpse of what happens when it goes haywire, and the last 20 minutes consists exclusively of DeFoe – holding up in the title hotel – having flashbacks over most of what we’ve already seen before, vainly trying to piece together what happened just like the audience. It’s incredibly tiresome.
Not surprisingly, this mess has had trouble finding a U.S. distributor, a situation Ferrara will no doubt blame on ignorant philistines not being able to appreciate his work.