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Next Day Air: Damaged goods

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From its slapdash opening that rips off the infinitely superior City of God to its guns-blazing finale that feels like a steal from the Quentin Tarantino playbook, Next Day Air doesn't possess one moment or idea that can be called its own. Here's a project so ill-conceived that it finds room in its cast for the talented Mos Def but then bungles that gift by giving him the smallest role among the principal cast members.

Of course, you wouldn't know this from the posters and previews, most of which place the actor front and center. The marketing gurus behind this picture are brilliant; maybe they should have been assigned to make this film instead of director Benny Boom and writer Blair Cobbs.

At least Mos Def is good while he lasts, appearing in only two scenes as a perpetually stoned delivery man for a UPS-style company called Next Day Air. Much more of the screen time is given to Scrubs' Donald Faison, also playing a perpetually stoned delivery man -- and the one who mistakenly delivers a box of cocaine bricks to a pair of bumbling bank robbers (Mike Epps and Wood Harris) instead of the proper recipient, a Latino middle man named Jesus (Cisco Reyes). When the crime lord (Emilio Rivera) who sent the package learns of this screw-up, he takes it upon himself to handle the matter in person.

Despite the fact that they're only required to play "types" rather than characters, all of the actors acquit themselves nicely, including Yasmin Deliz in a feisty film debut as Jesus' girlfriend. But even a gung-ho cast can't work miracles when the screenwriter can't think of anything witty for them to say and the director is incapable of building any sort of momentum from scene to scene. Just mark this one Return To Sender.

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