Faster than western distributors can keep up, Johnnie To keeps building on his record of Hong Kong box-office success and reputation for movies that should be better than they are. So goes Breaking News’ deliriously loaded premise — jump-started with a restlessly kinetic single-take shootout — in which squabbling police divisions and two separate groups of criminals square off in the stairwells, hallways, and apartments of a sealed-off high-rise, both sides spinning the showdown real-time to the swarming media. Partly it’s the cast, led by the anodyne Kelly Chen as the P.R.-hungry policewoman coordinating both siege and media circus, and featuring various other generic prefabrications of the Hong Kong fame machine. Worse, To proves an inept choreographer of his narrative movements: the media critique remains simplistic, the plotting trips up on nonstarter subplots. By the time it devolves into a ludicrous, self-mythologizing chase-scene climax, Breaking News feels more like an infomercial for its own ambition.
Opens January 27 at Cinema Village