Owen Gleiberman
October 04, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

2 Days in the Valley

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Danny Aiello, Keith Carradine, Jeff Daniels, Glenn Headley, Teri Hatcher, Paul Mazursky, James Spader, Eric Stoltz, Charlize Theron
director
John Herzfeld
distributor
MGM
author
John Herzfeld
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an D-

Pure smog. Like a virus that eats away at the brain, ”Look — I’m the next Tarantino!” syndrome can seize hold of a young filmmaker, resulting in a movie that’s little more than a daisy chain of ”attitude.” In 2 Days in the Valley, a smug galumphing fiasco of a thriller, an icy-psychotic hitman (James Spader, coiffed and bespectacled like Michael Caine in The Ipcress File) paws the breasts of his Nordic-amazon girlfriend (Charlize Theron) as blood gushes from a wound in her abdomen. A suicidal television director (Paul Mazursky) skulks through the San Fernando Valley accompanied by a faithful schnauzer. A broken-down crook (Danny Aiello) whips up spaghetti sauce as he holds a pair of hostages at gunpoint. And so on. Writer-director John Herzfeld blends violence and top-heavy absurdism, creating a self-conscious muddle of indie-style hackery. Strip away the goofball nihilism, though, and what’s left is as formulaic as any straight-to-tape opus with a title like Dangerous Instinct. D-

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