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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Twisted

Starring: Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Philip Kaufman
Rated: R
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: February 2004
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Bill Duke, Richard T. Jones, Russell Wong, D.W. Moffett, Andy Garcia, Jim Hechim, Mark Pellegrino, David Strathairn

Review by Harvey Karten
2 stars out of 4

If you moved to California, in what city of town would you live? Would you prefer sunny Santa Barbara to chilly San Francisco? After seeing "Twisted," you'll opt for the sun, and this is a compliment to cinematographer Peter Deming who, with the help of Mark Isham's music gives that city the noirish feel so necessary to cynical police dramas. The opposite side of the coin is that the hackneyed use of such an ambiance is often accompanied by trite dialogue leading to awfully silly and unintentionally funny scenes. In directing "Twisted," Philip Kaufman, giving life to Sarah Thorp's screenplay, cannot rise too far above the risible, not a good omen for a tale of a serial killer.

Featuring Ashley Judd in virtually every scene the actress coiffed in a modishly short style "Twisted" focuses on a woman who has risen through the ranks to be one of San Francisco's elite detective inspectors, homicide division. Though a cop is never off-duty, Jessica Shepard (Judd) lays her gun aside frequently to avoid scaring off numbers of men whom she picks up at a bar for stretches of casual canoodling. Though she looks nothing like Aileen Wormus, if her per diem dates had any idea of the consequences of these meetings, they'd stay far away, since one by one the men are found beaten to a pulp (for all we know Mel Gibson could have been an uncredited consultant). Since they had in common their liaisons with Jessica, guess who's the leading suspect?

Jessica's life is a mess. She blacks out frequently after drinking wine, with no memory of what she may have done before these episodes of unconsciousness, wondering whether the police are indeed on the right track in busting her for murder. Her meteoric rise results partly from her ability to describe what she sees in detail with just a glance, but more from her connection with police commissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson) who raised her as his own when his former partner, Jessica's father, apparently went on a jealous rampage killing his own wife and then himself. Twists and turns, a staple of the genre, have us suspecting Jessica's insistent ex-boyfriend, Jimmy (Mark Pelligrino) and even her partner, the self-assured and comely Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia). Not even the shrink appointed by the department to get to the bottom of Jessica's blackouts, Dr. Frank (David Straithaim), is of much help to anyone and, in fact, confuses the issues even further.

There's nothing original in the script or particularly impressive about the performances in this run-of-the-mill drama, which in its laziness concludes with one of Roger Ebert's notorious cliches the gunman who gets himself into serious trouble by talking too much.

Copyright 2004 Harvey Karten

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