Keith Hamshere, Paramountclassics
Clive Owen stars as a British gangster living in semi-seclusion in "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."

"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" only serves to remind us just how terrific the 2000 thriller "Croupier" was. The two films may have come from the same director (veteran British filmmaker Mike Hodges) and may feature the same star (Clive Owen, who could be the next James Bond). But they couldn't be more different.

"Croupier" was crafty in its plotting — so crafty that at times you had no idea where it was going. And that was a large part of its charm.

"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is predictable to a fault. There's a feeling of inevitability, as if you've seen all this before.

This is also one of the more unpleasant films in recent memory, in terms of some of its content. And the fact that there's really no character to root for or sympathize with doesn't help.

Owen stars as Will Graham, a British gangster living a bohemian life in semi-seclusion down by the shoreline, who's happy to be out of the "business." Unfortunately, he's been dragged back in by some of his former colleagues, who are suspicious about the apparent suicide of his younger brother Davey (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers).

There's a serious lack of energy here. At times even Owen seems as if he's drifting off. Which isn't to say that the film is completely without merit. The scene in which his character "transforms" to bad-guy mode is very well-done and particularly effective.

However, despite a couple of plot twists, this is very familiar stuff. And it's such ugly, nasty stuff that it's really hard to care about any of it.

The film also features yet another one-note performance by Malcolm McDowell (in too-familiar villain mode), while Charlotte Rampling is wasted in a go-nowhere supporting role.

"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is rated R for violence (beatings, shootings and a suicide), frequent use of strong sexual profanity and crude sexual slang terms, a scene depicting rape (homosexual), some drug content (references to drug usage), brief male nudity and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 102 minutes.