If narrative intricacy is your cup of tea, you might want to check out “10 Cent Pistol,” a crime melodrama that certainly twists and turns enough to make your head spin. Unfortunately, all the changes in chronology, perspectives and loyalties can’t disguise the fact that at heart it’s just a bargain-basement recycling of Scorsese and Tarantino, without the heft of the former or the gonzo vitality of the latter.

The plot kicks off with a scruffy young fellow named Harris (Thomas Ian Nicholas) nervously opening the door of a mansion to two cops investigating a silent alarm. Their search reveals a number of others in the house: a girl named Danneel (Jena Malone), a couple of guys, Easton (Damon Alexander) and Jake (JT Alexander), solemnly sitting on a sofa, and—peculiarly—an unknown fellow trapped in an elevator upstairs. The situation is obviously not right, but all the occupants’ credentials seem in order.

At that point the script flashes back a year, and Easton narrates how he got sandbagged by wealthy mobster Punchy (Joe Mantegna), the owner of the mansion: he pulled a job for Punchy, but it went south and left him wounded. After the bullets were painfully extracted by an underworld doctor (Adam Arkin), Punchy gave Easton some bad news: he’d have to spend some time in the pen for the mess he’d left behind. Meanwhile Punchy would keep some valuable bonds that resulted from the shoot-out.

Easton served only a little more than a year, but when he got out Punchy was long gone, and he enlisted his old partner Jake in a scheme to retrieve the bonds from the mansion. A third participant in the plot will be Danneel; she’s technically an aspiring actress who’s Easton’s squeeze but, during his imprisonment she got very close to Jake. It’s the plot they hatch, which involves the taking of Punchy’s son Harris that results in the picture’s opening scene.

But that’s merely the skeleton of a scenario that includes scads of double- and triple-crosses, not to mention further flashbacks that reveal how Easton and Jake clashed over how to pull off the original heist that got Easton sent to the pokey—which opens the door to a cool, if not completely believable, sequence in which Jake pulls off a clever switch in an underground garage. Jake also takes over the narrative duties from Easton around the half-way point. In the final reel the plot reverts to the “contemporary” material of the opening sequence, with lots of gunfire and blood splatter as well as the revelation of who that guy in the elevator is, and why he’s there. By the end we realize we’re in “Sunset Boulevard” territory and only one of the conspirators is left sitting pretty, as far as those bonds are concerned.

You have to give Michael C. Moran credit for hatching such a complicated scenario and, in collaboration with cinematographer Michael Fimognari and editor Aram Nigoghossian, putting it on the screen fairly smoothly, even if he never succeeds in convincing you that all the loose ends have been tied up. Among the cast Malone comes off best, even if Danneel is never more than a pulpish contrivance, and old pros Mantegna and Arkin handle the gangster banter with their accustomed aplomb. Nicholas, Brendan Sexton III (as a voluble pal of Jakes) and Justin Hires (as an even more voluble garage attendant) handle their chores with skill, but the Alexander brothers, who also produced, lack the charisma to make the central partners in crime distinctive or memorable. That’s a serious flaw in a picture that relies so heavily on their presence—and their narrative voices.

If you like puzzles—and don’t mind if, when completed, they don’t reveal much of interest—you might enjoy this labyrinthine little brain-teaser. If not, you probably won’t think it’s worth a plugged nickel.