As Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer putt-putt-putted along, I found myself reacting very similarly to his highly-regarded debut, Knife in the Water. Polanski’s skills are obvious in his compositions and patience, and a nervous energy hovers over much of the picture…yet I consistently felt disengaged, like the pacing was mismanaged. In the case of The Ghost Writer, a political thriller that touches on current events while also serving as an outlet for Polanski’s personal frustrations at his exile from America, a fairly high number of excellent sequences are too frequently followed by stagnation. This one could easily have shaved 30 minutes off its run-time, which would have likely made for a lean, astute portrait of government corruption & secrets (ranging from the C.I.A. to political memoirs). Instead, we get an up-and-down film, one that has plenty of moments, but doesn’t come together to form a cohesive work. The acting is mostly solid: Ewan McGregor is a nice fit as ghost writer, and Rushmore‘s Olivia Williams is outstanding as the cold, to-the-point wife of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (a less impressive, slightly goofy Pierce Brosnan). Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead, Tom Wilkinson, James Belushi, and Kim Cattrall chip in with strong supporting work. The ending perfectly sums up The Ghost Writer as a whole: memorable image and framing, questionable placement and editing decision.