Tuesday, August 21, 2007

PERFECT STRANGER (psychological thriller)

Cast: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi and Gary Dourdan
Director: James Foley
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? We can only classify this one as a Perfect Build-up to a Huge Disappointment. It would have been justifiable if "Perfect Stranger" were a B-grade effort with a second-string cast. It would have been forgivable if it were an illegitimate and exploitative sequel like "Hannibal Rising" or "Basic Instinct 3".
But no, it has Oscar-winner Halle Berry and action veteran Bruce Willis top-lining its cast. Its trailer promised a murder mystery that we could really sink our teeth into - and some people may even conjure visions of Halle B reprising those 'babelicious' scenes from "Swordfish" and "Monster's Ball". After sitting through more than an hour of complicated plot development, we get thrown into the depths of inanity as pay-off! To add insult to injury, Halle B stays in PG-territory!

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Berry is Rowena Price, an investigative reporter who is trying to track down the killer of her childhood friend, Grace (Nicki Aycox). At the time of her death, Grace was having an affair with married advertising mogul Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis). With the help of her sidekick, Miles (Giovanni Ribisi), Rowena manages to get hold of a computer account that has incriminating sex chat transcripts between Grace and someone nicknamed "ADEX". Now, is Harrison's log-in name ADEX? To find out, Rowena not only logs on and sends suggestive messages to ADEX, she also joins Harrison's company as an intern to get to know him better. Meanwhile, she discovers that Miles is more than just an ardent assistant, and that her boyfriend Cameron (Gary Dourdan) has been keeping some secrets from her...

GEMS & FLAWS: Indeed, this movie works on the tagline "How Far Would You Go To Keep A Secret?" but the secret it keeps from us viewers is downright ridiculous. It leaves us feeling so cheated that we feel like suing the film-makers for wasting our time. Director James Foley seems so desperate to come up with a 'surprise ending' that he risks losing everything he has built up in the movie. Instead of a surprise, he dropped the proverbial bomb that blew everything away.This is a pity because Berry, Willis and Ribisi have helped to work up our curiosity and have even provided a bit of tension and suspense. The cat-and-mouse game between Rowena and Harrison is filled with sexual vibes even if Berry overacts her scenes. All these have come to nought - and Foley has to come up with a soliloquy to explain the illogical twist.

THE LOWDOWN: Save your money and meet "Perfect Stranger" on cable.


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