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Val Kilmer makes good drug movies. He rode the snake in The Doors, and now he’s tweakin’ in The Salton Sea as Danny Parker, a tattooed bottom-feeder whose opening narration insists that you listen to his whole story before making judgments about his immersion in the day-is-night-is-day crank subculture. As dark and brooding as its star’s always-solemn face, the movie winds a bit backward, so you find out that Danny’s an informant, and back further still, so you find out that he’s also seeking revenge for his wife’s death and is really named Tom Van Allen. It’s only then that you realize that The Salton Sea is not merely about crystal meth, that Danny’s not really a junkie, and that scripter Tony Gayton—who also wrote the laughable Murder by Numbers—can tell a compelling crime story after all. With a tag line of “If you’re looking for the truth, you’ve come to the wrong place,” the film has the greasy feel of Memento and mimics that movie’s nobody’s-as-they-seem theme. And its bit players are positively Lynchian in weirdness, from Bobby (Glenn Plummer), a nonsensical drug dealer who completes transactions while a woman screams from beneath his mattress, to Pooh Bear (a terrifying Vincent D’Onofrio), a dealer who dons a plastic nose (his had to be amputated because of too much snorting) and re-enacts the Kennedy assassination with costumed pigeons in a remote-controlled car. D’Onofrio’s Pooh Bear is both gleeful and disturbed, and his over-the-top performance is difficult to watch as he fucks with Danny over whether he’ll get away from him alive. Kilmer’s Danny/Tom, by contrast, is mournfully understated, a character who’s all eyes, ears, and cool around others but who occasionally allows you glimpses into what haunts him through rookie director D.J. Caruso’s stylized flashbacks. The Salton Sea mixes the “Who am I?” cliche with the more interesting question of “What would you do?”—which, even if it doesn’t lead moviegoers to enlightenment, might at least leave them more grateful for their boring desk jobs. —Tricia Olszewski