Cosmopolis, director David Cronenberg's dark, cynical film about power, greed, and youth, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, is a harsh critique of capitalism and modern society. At the epicenter of the movie (which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday) is Robert Pattinson (the Twilight series) as Eric Packer, a callous billionaire who helps trigger the collapse of the international economy then travels indifferently through Manhattan in his souped-up limo... in search of a haircut. Despite other attempts to move past his tween-friendly Twilight image, Pattinson is still pigeonholed as a flimsy heartthrob, the butt of critics' jokes. Has he finally graduated to the big leagues this time? Is he actually... good?
Yes. Pattinson plays Packer just right: Cronenberg's film is "an amplified, feverish vision of the one percent as scarcely human," says Alison Willmore at Movieline, and Pattinson does "a quietly marvelous thing in finding vulnerability in Eric without making it seem like softness." As he subtly depicts Eric's gradual breakdown, he shows his character's panic rising "in barely perceptible increments.""Pattinson is quietly marvelous in Cronenberg's admirable, feverish Cosmopolis"
No. This role is too demanding for him: To play Packer, Pattinson has to be "the king holding court in virtually every scene," says Betsey Sharkey at The Los Angeles Times. Unfortunately, he doesn't convincingly summon "the heartlessness that's necessary to make us hate Eric, or fear him." Pattinson is icier as Eric than he was as Twilight's Edward Cullen, but there's a fine art to playing the soulless that few actors (one being the Oscar-winning Kevin Spacey) can pull off.
"Cosmopolis money and mind games spin their wheels"
Pattinson's not good, but it's the movie's fault: "I hate to kick a guy when he's down," says Alynda Wheat at People, of Pattinson — whose been a tabloid target since his girlfriend Kristen Stewart cheated on him — but "the man hasn't been in a good movie since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," and that includes Cosmopolis. Pattinson "gamely tries" to find his way as Eric Packer, but the film is just an "impenetrable forest of idiocy." We spend most of the movie trapped in a car "as [Eric's] employees filter through, spouting ridiculous babble about art, time, and commerce."
"Cosmopolis is a misfire"
Pattinson's limitations actually help him nail this role: The Twilight actor's "narrow expressive range" and wooden line readings are eerily appropriate for a character like Packer who "barely qualifies as human," says Dana Stevens at Slate. Pattinson shines in scenes where he's paired with a "similarly sleek, remote" actor, but comes up short "when he plays opposite someone [like Paul Giamatti] who brings the crackle of real human life to the screen."
Bottom line: While it's still debatable whether Pattinson is talented or just eminently blank, he is, at least, perfectly cast in this movie.