Directed by Jack Green

Starring Bill Paxton, Mark Wahlburg, Julianna Margulies & James Gammon.


Opened: May 9, 1997 | Rated: R

For a movie about a highly unusual topic -- modern day Irish Gypsies in the South -- "Traveller," disappointingly, never goes anywhere remotely unexpected.

Starring Bill Paxton, in a surprising career move after becoming a "name" thanks to "Twister", this crime-drama is formula stuff about a petty scam artist (Paxton) and his apprentice (Mark Wahlburg) who strike out looking for the Big Score and get tripped up by obligations to the women in their lives.

After years of nickel and diming it with small-time scams like selling broken down mobile homes to yuppie suckers, Paxton finally gets suckered himself, being drawn into a risky knock on a low level mobster when he turns softy and wants to bankroll an ear operation for his girlfriend's daughter.

"Traveller" lets the audience down from the moment Paxton gives into romance. The women in this picture exist only as plots device -- objects of desire to distract our players from their appointed rounds. As soon as Paxton looks longingly at his girlfriend, we know he will dive dangerously into an iffy swindle for her sake and eventually have to save her from some terrible fate, probably involving the mobsters.

The performances in "Traveller" are strong. Paxton is understated and thoughtful, and it continues to amaze me that a Wahlburg, a guy who came to the public eye as white boy rapper Marky Mark, has the talent he does. But if it were a character study, and it isn't remotely that deep, these performances wouldn't be enough anyway. As it is, Paxton and Wahlburg only serve to make one exit this movie thinking "It could have been worse."

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