By Shawn McKenzie 02/27/2004
Just as Meg Ryan has pigeonholed herself in romantic comedies, I think Ashley Judd has now found herself stuck in crime thrillers. After A Time to Kill, Kiss the Girls, Eye of the Beholder, Double Jeopardy, and High Crimes, she is getting in a rut. Her latest, Twisted, keeps her in that rut, an unfortunately, it isnít too thrilling of a thriller.
Jessica Shepard (Judd) is a beat cop who has recently been promoted to homicide detective. Her latest bust was a murder suspect named Edmund Culter (Leland Orser), who had held a knife to the neck, but she still overpowered him and kicked him in the face. She has to see staff psychiatrist Dr. Melvin Frank (David Strathairn) because of this, as ordered by her boss, Lieutenant Tong (Russell Wong.) Her new partner is veteran detective Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia), and her first case is a little familiar. The body of Bob Sherman (James Hechim) is found and itís also a man with whom she has had casual sex. It is chalked up as coincidence, until a second victim, Larry Geber (Joe Duer), is found, who also happens to be a casual sex partner. Also, both victims had a cigarette burn on the back of their hand. Now that theyíve established that they have a serial killer on their hands, some people think that she should be removed from the case. Police Commissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson), Jessicaís fatherís former partner who raised her from a child following her parentsí deaths, wonít pull her because there is no evidence against her, it would ruin her career, and her involvement might lead to the killerís arrest. She suspects even herself, because her father George was a serial killer who killed her mother, and she blacks out every time a murder occurs. After a third victim is found with the same M.O., Ray Porter (D.W. Moffett), Culterís lawyer and a man she slept with once, she has crime lab technician Lisa (Camryn Manheim) run her blood for tests. There are other suspects, including a weird-acting Delmarco, fellow detective Dale Becker (Titus Welliver), who hates her because Culter was his collar, and her former partner and boyfriend, Jimmy Schmidt (Mark Pellegrino), who wonít accept that theyíre no longer together. When yet another man she slept with is murdered, Jessica tries to figure out whatís going on before anyone else is killed.
I found out that Philip Kaufman directed the movie. I didnít know much about the man, so I checked out his filmography. He directed good movies like The Right Stuff, Henry & June, Rising Sun, and Quills, so it is odd that he decided to do this one.
For one thing, it isnít suspenseful at all. I wonít reveal the killer, but if you are familiar with crime thrillers, youíll predict the scoundrel relatively early. I keep saying that I am the biggest sucker for movie twists, but I saw the killer a mile away. Fortunately for Judd, this wasnít her faultÖjust the fault of the part she had to play, because she makes with it what she can.
Aside from Kaufman and Juddís involvement, Iím surprised Jackson and Garcia got involved in it. Jackson practically sleeps through his performance, and Garcia seems bored with his role. Iím wondering why they wanted to do this film. Are they hurting that badly for the paycheck?
Twisted isnít very twisty. If Judd is going to keep making these movies, she should choose the scripts a little better. I wish she would stop though, because I like some of her non-crime thrillers, like Where the Heart Is and Simon Birch. Heck, she was even decent in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Either way, if she keeps making predictable crime thrillers, she is going to find it so hard to get out of that corner she has painted herself in someday.
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