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Keith Hamshere, The Weinstein Company
Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell star in "Cassandra's Dream."
CASSANDRA'S DREAM — ** 1/2 — Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Tom Wilkinson; rated PG-13 (violence, profanity, drugs, brief sex, vulgarity)

At first it seemed like all filmmaker Woody Allen needed was a change of location. When he started telling stories in London rather than his beloved New York City, Allen seemed re-energized.

In fact, a resulting film, the Oscar-nominated, 2004 thriller "Match Point," was among his career best.

But as it turns out, that was only a momentary respite. Two follow-ups since have been tired retreads of his and others' films.

Allen's latest is the

suspense-thriller "Cassandra's Dream," which echoes the 1951 Hitchcock classic "Strangers on a Train" ... it's "Brothers on a Boat," if you will.

It's not completely awful. But it lacks the necessary suspense and the only thing that really holds it together are the performances.

Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell star as Ian and Terry Blaine, two brothers with serious financial problems.

Scheming restaurant manager Ian wants to invest in hotels and impress his would-be actress girlfriend, Angela (Hayley Atwell). Auto mechanic Terry has a gambling problem and has racked up some major debts.

They're both relying on their rich uncle, Howard (Tom Wilkinson), to help them out. But his financial support comes at a terrible price: He'll give them the money Ian and Terry need if they'll kill Martin Burns (Philip Davis), a colleague who's about to spill the beans about some of Howard's shadier dealings.

It's pretty clear where all of this is going from the opening scene, one in which Ian and Terry buy a boat together. And frankly, these aren't the most likable characters — at one point, Ian steals money from his father's restaurant.

To their credit, both McGregor and Farrell do what they can with the material to convince us that they're English brothers (McGregor is actually Scottish; Farrell is Irish).

And Wilkinson is terrific as always, though he's in the movie all too briefly.

"Cassandra's Dream" is rated PG-13 for some brief strong violence (a shooting and a scuffle), occasional strong profanity, drug content (prescription drug abuse), a brief sex scene, and other suggestive language (vulgar references and slang). Running time: 108 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com