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The Skulls

Director:Rob Cohen
Writer:John Pogue
Universal Pictures; PG-13; 100 minutes
Release:3/00
Cast:Joshua Jackson, Paul Walker, Hill Harper

There is something reassuring in the average conspiracy theory. Such theories posit that the world is run by a small, power-hungry elite whose omnipotent whim drives the global economy and shapes our social relations. If one could dismantle this, presumably every wrong would get righted. As a political program, conspiracy theories relieve the individual of actual action and cast the blame on an oligarchy so cloistered as to be invisible, untouchable, and generally like the blue-blooded white men who've joined Yale University's infamous Skull and Bones secret society. George W. Bush is a member, sworn to secrecy like the rest. This old boys' club provides inspiration (or is that perspiration?) for The Skulls, a second- rate thriller about a blue-collar law student (Joshua Jackson) who gets sucked into the murderous clan. His black roommate (Hill Harper) is mysteriously killed while investigating them. When Jackson's character decides he wants out, it is too late...

The Skulls fumbles around, failing to evoke the suffocating tension and urgency of a successful conspiracy thriller. It's been a bad year for the weirdo ruling elite: Roman Polanski's flabby fawning Satanists and Stanley Kubrick's flabby fawning Goths were both forgettable entries. The Skulls certainly doesn't help their public image.


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