So now he's hurt. He limps, he suffers. And character assassination is only a part of it. "I don't like people thinking I'm a crook. I sound like Nixon now: 'I'm not a crook!' But what else can I say?" He claims that almost all account holders have gotten their money back, and that "95 percent of the people clamoring for their money are frauds." For those who claim otherwise, he has a promise: "Everyone that is owed money—to the extent that I have anything to do with it—will be paid." It's a line you'd expect Luke Wilson to utter in Middle Men, and Mallick says he means it. Though rather than providing an independent audit—"I don't see a reason for doing that"—he simply offers his word. "Paper is just paper," he explains. "A handshake is the most important thing."

Burned as he is, Mallick maintains life is good. "I heal quickly," he says, referring to his shattered ankle. Though he's alone, he has many friends, whom he cooks for on Sundays. Occasionally he heads to Vegas to play blackjack. The rest of the time he's watching Seinfeld reruns or old movies or reading scripts. As ePassporte recedes into the past, Mallick's Hollywood career improbably still has a pulse. Middle Men is out now on DVD; on-demand will follow. "There are all these ancillary revenue streams," he says. "Pulp Fiction didn't do well at all at the box office either. Casino is another one. So even though my movie did terribly at the box office, it will be an economic success for me."

In addition to Oxymoron Entertainment, he now owns a 3-D studio called Stereo D and has several other projects in the pipeline as well—a boxing documentary, a Christmas movie, a documentary about retired porn stars.

As he lurches to his feet and limps across the restaurant toward the exit, he promises that one day the truth about ePassporte's mysterious implosion will come out. "I know all sorts of things about why this happened. And if I tell anyone, I'll tell you," he says, then smiles. "I'm a filmmaker, I reference movies. You got to think about what Hal Holbrook says in All the President's Men: 'Follow the money!' Who stands to gain? Who stands to benefit? If you think about that for long enough, you'll figure it out."

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