Once you get past the acquainted strains of Blondie’s “Call Me” implicit the opening credits, the connection from “American Gigolo” isn’t worthy answering. It is, rather, a misguided and distasteful reboot, seeking to tease the movie’s premise into a larger mystery. Jon Bernthal struts his worldly arsenic the escort trying to get his laughter back, but this ’80s artifact should person been near successful the clip capsule.
Adapted into bid signifier by David Hollander, who subsequently near the project, the premix of flash and trash successful and astir sunny Southern California astir makes the producer’s past halt for Showtime, “Ray Donovan,” look cheery and upbeat by comparison. (Nikki Toscano, of Paramount’s “The Offer,” took implicit arsenic the showrunner.)
Bernthal’s Julian is released aft 15 years successful situation for a execution helium didn’t commit, and initially seems indifferent to the question of who mightiness person framed him, contempt the urgings of the detective (Rosie O’Donnell, lone 1 of the miscast co-stars) who helped enactment him away.
“Don’t you privation to cognize what happened?” she asks.
As for the past and present of it, “American Gigolo” employs the acquainted instrumentality of jumping backmost and distant successful time, including Julian’s introduction into the sex-for-money concern arsenic a teenager, nether the stewardship of a madam (Sandrine Holt) who throws lavish excavation parties overlooking the ocean.
There’s a leering facet to the sexuality successful the bid that astatine times confuses “ick” with “edgy,” made worse by the information that it involves minors. Nor is that helped by the hostility of whether Julian volition get backmost into the enactment trade, which, arsenic the flashbacks marque clear, is the 1 concern helium genuinely knows.
Since “The Walking Dead,” Bernthal has appeared successful assorted tough-guy roles, including Marvel’s plodding “The Punisher,” “The Many Saints of Newark” and astir precocious the fact-based HBO transgression play “We Own This City.” Here, helium gets to amusement disconnected a much susceptible side, but Julian is specified a tightly wound, impenetrable quality that it’s hard to go peculiarly acrophobic astir his fate, contempt attempts by those similar his erstwhile workfellow Lorenzo (Wayne Brady, again somewhat incongruously, arsenic an adult) to propulsion him retired of his shell.
“American Gigolo” does its champion to support peeling backmost layers connected the enigma similar the movie noir of the past, with the detective astatine 1 constituent telling Julian that he’s “like the ‘Where’s Waldo?’ of f—ing transgression scenes” arsenic caller casualties occur.
The cardinal to “Where’s Waldo?,” of course, is wanting to enactment successful the effort to find him. “American Gigolo” tries to supply immoderate incentive, but aft the fast-paced montage arsenic Debbie Harry belts retired that rubric track, the inclination is to accidental “Don’t telephone us, we’ll telephone you.”
“American Gigolo” premieres September 9 connected Showtime’s streaming work and September 11 astatine 9 p.m. ET connected Showtime.