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The Salton Sea

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Salton Sea

Starring: Val Kilmer, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: D.J. Caruso
Rated: R
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Deborah Unger, Meat Loaf, Vincent D'Onofrio, Shalom Harlow, Anthony LaPaglia, Azura Skye, Danny Trejo, Luis Guzman

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewvideo review
3.  Harvey Karten read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Susan Granger
1 star out of 4

In the opening scene of this dark crime thriller, Danny Parker (Val Kilmer) is sitting alone, playing the trumpet, in a room ablaze with fire. In a "Don't give up on me yet" voice-over plea, he begins a confessional, explaining who he is - and isn't - and how his wife (Chandra West) was brutally shot by masked killers simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and how he was unable to protect her. The crime took place at the Salton Sea in Southern California's steamy Imperial Valley. Obsessed by guilt and vengeance, Danny becomes a "tweaker," plunging into a seedy netherworld of addicts hooked on crystal methamphetamine. While he makes money as a police informant, feeding information to undercover narcotics agents (Anthony La Paglia, Doug Hutchinson), he's also working as a middle-man in a lucrative drug deal. Written by Tony Gayton, the plot twists and turns and, suffice it to say, nothing is what it seems - but that still doesn't make these scummy, repugnant - ultimately tragic - characters worth spending two hours with. For example, there's one lunatic who's determined to heist Bob Hope's stool sample to sell on E-Bay and another, named Pooh-Bear (Vincent D'Onofrio), who has snorted so much meth that he now has a plastic nose. He graphically threatens Danny that his private parts could become snack food for a hungry badger named Capt. Steubing. Val Kilmer hurls himself into the film noir persona of the tattooed speed-freak, encouraged by novice director D.J. Caruso, who seems bewitched by the euphoric intensity of extreme degradation. But it's all a nasty, phony fraud, including Kilmer's trumpet playing which was dubbed by jazz hornman Terence Blanchard. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Salton Sea" is a stylized but singularly repulsive 3. It's a perilous trip.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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