Right away we are plunged into the surf, then briney heat and sun-baked natives and party-mad tourists, some relishing the Caymans' identity as a tax haven. Investor and dodger Carl (Bill Paxton) arrives more desperately, on the lam from imminent arrest in Miami, with a big valise of cash to pad him through the failure of his corrupt Caymans bank. His princess daughter, blond Pippa (Agnes Bruckner), huffs about some dirty sheets, not much caring about dad's dirty money. Soon, she is adrift in the scene, her young head hazed by drink and coke and a stud named Fritz (Victor Rasuk), an island rascal "on vacation his whole life."
Flowers employs the local, musical lingo (with some subtitles) and fast, nip-cut editing in the line of "Trainspotting" and "City of God," and does it well. Drenched in atmosphere, the film is a pressure cooker of risk and spilling tensions, some from the bored money handler Mr. Allen (perfectly cynical Stephen Dillane), a thug on the rise (Anthony Mackie), a closeted gay (Lee Ingleby) and a predatory cop (Bobby Cannavale).
There is some sugar bait for the under-25 crowd. Orlando Bloom plays an island loner and beach bum named Shy, a golden dude who could be Bloom's retort to Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean." He magnetizes the island's reigning black princess (Zoe Saldana), and their illicit romance has some of the sulky vapors of teen tripe, though capably acted.
They are a tease at the start, then have a long, central flashback meant to stretch the plot and provide relief from the sense of rotten cash being laundered in a rusty vat of rum. There are roving gangs and cops so tired of tourist drunks (and of being guard dogs for the rich) that they turn nasty. Beautiful Bloom even gets punished with some cruelty from the classic noir manual.
This end-of-summer screen filler has, despite some blatancy, force of conviction and some sharp, whippet style. Both a Caymans come-on poster and a shredding of it, the movie is also a cruise best taken in a safe theater seat.
A Yari Film Group release. Director, writer: Frank E. Flowers. Cast: Orlando Bloom, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Dillane, Bill Paxton, Victor Rasuk, Agnes Bruckner. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes. Rated R. 2 1/2 stars.