Ted Demme's drug drama doesn't score many points for originality or daring (borrowing liberally from the works of Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson among others), but the story of drug entrepreneur George Jung is still gripping enough to make this film worthwhile. In an unsurprising but effective turn from Johnny Depp, we see Jung's ups and downs as he teeters between infamy and respectability, and the film itself has a similar rickety pattern. The female roles played by Penelope Cruz and Rachel Griffiths are monstrous cartoons, configured to sneer easily; the characterizations take some of the wind out of the story, as they make it more retrograde than necessary. Furthermore, Jung's life is told with far too much sentiment, forcing the audience to sympathize with him more often than is needed and taking the darker edge off the film, which could have made it an irresistible crime tale much like Scorsese's GoodFellas. Scorsese told a very similar story with more black humor and a resistance to convention, while still managing to take the audience on a breathless ride -- something this film only hints at.