The first act is cobbled together with those familiar, egregious signposts of contemporary action cinema: "cheeky" music cues, title cards, villains who are outrageously evil, etc. Some problems remain throughout; a hitman subplot, while ultimately emotionally affective on its own, would work better as its own film. But somewhere around the forty minute mark, the film tonally and stylistically shifts, not once looking back. The Rock's lumbering totem of vengeance becomes a moral terror, destroying families with each murder, while Billy Bob Thorton's character (actually tolerable here) becomes more nuanced. Ultimately, in the film's final act, it reveals itself as a parable, an almost Biblical morality tale (as Ignatiy Vishnevetsky aptly pointed out).
What was a bland visual landscape becomes an atmospheric, metaphoric nightmare of neons, blues, and parched Nevada desert. In a striking composition, The Rock approaches a woman in bed while a television turned to a dead channel buzzes consistent, eerie white noise. The Rock's character, already sparsely developed, becomes less developed as the film progresses, until he merely becomes a force of destruction, moral and immoral alike. He's a man born of a dead channel, or, as he calls himself, the "...demon that crawled out of..." a man's personal, earthly hell. The semi-apocalyptic endgame slightly fizzles in the film's conclusion, the myriad of dark tones settling uneasily into something like resolution, but the film lingers as one that touches greatness. Contemporary action cinema could use more films like this.