MAN IN BLACK Val Kilmer steals Nicolas Cage's hair in The Traveler

Val Kilmer dares to be weird. Like Johnny Depp at his freakiest, Kilmer is one of those actors who always seem to be listening to some sick joke inside their own heads. Personally, that’s why I like the guy. But it also may be why Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with him. After all, it’s been a long time since his hypnotic turns in Tombstone and Heat. And lately, Kilmer’s been relegated to bit parts in disposable junk like MacGruber. Still, as anyone who regularly trolls the dark waters of direct-to-DVD knows, the actor has remained plenty busy. Take this month’s double feature of Gun and The Traveler. Let’s start with the better of the two, Gun, which was written by and stars Curtis ”50 Cent” Jackson. In the twisty, bullet-riddled Detroit noir, Kilmer plays an ex-con who joins Jackson’s arms-dealing crew on the eve of a big score. As a writer, Fiddy won’t make Aaron Sorkin lose any sleep, but the movie is better than it should be thanks to the dead-end desperation Kilmer gives his tragic character. Sadly, The Traveler is a lot less interesting. It’s what you’d get if the makers of Saw optioned a Stephen King book (actually, that makes it sound too good). Kilmer is a drifter who walks into a sleepy police station on Christmas Eve with a doozy of a secret. But even his calm creepiness can’t save this one. He may be under-appreciated, but he’s not a miracle worker. Gun: B The Traveler: D