While I wasn't expecting something by the likes of "The French Connection", one would at least expect a Burt Reynolds star vehicle to be considerably livelier than this.Hustle, a muddled and middling crime yarn, takes the "joy of acting" right out of its star, Burt Reynolds, who stars as a police lieutenant investigating the death of a young woman who turns up washed up on the beach. Reynolds, who's usually the life of the party in his acting, doesn't seem to have found any dramatic or comical underpinnings to his sketchily-drawn role, and is left relying on past mannerisms that make his lieutenant less a character than a composite. Of course, with the inert pacing and episodic screenplay, there's too much downtime for the audience to surmise that Reynolds isn't carrying the film along like he's usually capable of doing -- he seems trapped by the whole thing, like a youngster not being able to go out to play unless he finishes his spinach first. The film is a drag, and not just because its whodunit angle is stilted, but because its pacing is non-existent and there's not a shred of immediacy to the narrative; it's a neo-noir that fails at sustaining the kind of expressive mood that would grip the viewer from start to finish. Then again, the director, Robert Aldrich, who contributes one undirected scene after another, has no visual style to speak of, so the audience isn't even left with a good-looking picture to fall back on. Other talented actors like Paul Winfield, Eddie Albert, and Ernest Borgnine can't do much with their cliched parts, with Catherine Deneuve suffering the worst as a hooker with a heart of gold. Hustle is two hours of all-out boredom that even resorts to having Reynolds go through the last half of the film with a visible injury to his head a la Chinatown. This, coupled with its ultra-low entertainment value, makes this soggy crime tale more than worthy of a citizen's arrest.Rent "Sharky's Machine" instead.