“The Laundromat” is a uniquely frustrating experience. Its central tale of bone-deep corporate greed is a winner: Its got terrific performances by an all-star cast, episodic vignettes that slowly but surely unfurl and methodically make their case against tax loophole laws, and a snappy pace that keeps things moving along quickly. However, as usual, director Steven Soderbergh just can’t help getting in his own way, and he packs the movie with unnecessary, pretentious digressions and fourth-wall-breaking that’s not nearly as clever as he wants us to think it is. Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas are totally wasted as corporate lawyers facilitating massive moral swindles, because Soderbergh can’t be bothered to simply let the narrative speak for itself and instead uses both actors as wrap-around narrative devices that constantly intrude the movie’s plot with not-clever-by-half banter that just fades into the background even as it’s in the foreground. There’s also the strange case of Meryl Streep, who plays dual roles for no discernible reason and, in the process, delivers a performance that seems like a parody of a Streep performance. So, about half the movie works really well, but the half that doesn’t work is so try-hard that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and the movie’s message is lost in Soderbergh’s perplexing choices.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)