Woody Harrelson has a meatier role in Paul Schrader's "The Walker" than in "No Country For Old Men", though he might concur that this harking back to the late 70s melodrama is more lackadasical and artsy than classy and slick.
The bounty hunter from the Coen Brothers' acclaimed border-set picture here is scion Carter Page III. From an opulent Southern clan, he finds the need to pass his time strolling with well-to-do ladies around D.C.
The closest of these female chums happen to be Lynn (Kristin Scott Thomas) whose hubby is a Senator (Willem Dafoe), along with Natalie (Lauren Bacall) and Abigail (Lily Tomlin).
The crux of the undistinguished narrative by Schrader involves a murder investigation hovering over Carter to keep the Senator in the clear as the canasta dapper fellow has a gay lover (Moritz Bleibtreu).
Schrader, who made "American Gigolo" with Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton in their heyday, revisits this territory with fading results. The camera smoothly wisks in and out of visages and conversations with a shuffling scrupulousness as how these people are in public and private life, obviously, is vastly different.
Harrelson boasts the physical tics of a confident, yet vulnerable sort, but not really getting much beyond the "superficial". Despite a briefly affecting part with Bleibtreu, not much really comes through their purported intimate relationship. The line readings that Harrelson shares with these lady friends has some color and candor, somewhat like those encountered in "Infamous" as Carter has the feyness of a Truman Capote.
"The Walker" meanders more often than not, teasing on the insinuations of scandal that occur during the campaigning when much whispering occurs. It offers nothing new when it comes to sensing its political hotbed setting or issues like homophobia and human rights. The more clearly defined of the backup comes from Tomlin and especially Bacall, while Scott Thomas and Dafoe are left with thinly realized characterizations.
Schrader has no problem establishing the atmosphere and the aristocratic Harrelson seems agile among those in power, but there is nothing taut and passionate about something so soulless and morally corruptible.