Few leading male actors have followed the roundabout career trajectory of Josh Hartnett. Though indisputably tall, dark and handsome, Hartnett still manages to avoid the pratfalls of typecasting by landing roles in strange projects with questionable appeal. While this choice comes at the expense of a quality resume, his performances can lend barely competent films at least one redeeming ingredient: I could give or take Wicker Park, Resurrecting the Champ, and even the good intentions of The Black Dahlia, but each benefits from Hartnett's expressive glare, furrowed brow and whispered delivery. He's an instant generator of gravitas.
Although August, director Austin Chick's second feature after the relationship drama XX/XY, doesn't qualify as Hartnett's best movie, it's certainly one of his meatiest roles – right up there with his work in the unfairly maligned Lucky Number Slevin. As the crudely pompous CEO of the mysterious start-up company Landshark in New York City during the summer before 9/11, Hartnett offers a maddened, garrulous anti-hero replete with dark humor and sustained by a surge of baseless confidence. The movie follows the audacious entrepreneur, Tom, as his fifteen minutes begin to run out – and it concludes with him facing off against a freakishly powerful David Bowie as the icy corporate foil. Despite the age gap, both men exude an eerie amount of restraint – which is not the case for the film. August adds up to less than it aspires to be, but it's populated with enough curiosities to keep you watching.