The movie opens with a fast start. In the very first scene, Ashley Judd apprehends a dangerous serial killer. For this she receives a promotion to police inspector. We soon find out at the bar that night she is a heavy drinker and frequently engages in one night stands. This behavior is the result of a traumatic childhood in which her father — who wouldn’t you know it is also a cop — went on a killing spree killing his wife and eventually himself. After that, Judd’s character, Jessica Shepard, was raised by her father’s partner, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who has now risen to police commissioner. As her first murder case unfolds, it becomes clear that she is the prime suspect. Men she had “encounters” with keep turning up dead and she is the only clear connection. All the signs point to her and black outs she experiences prevent her from accounting for her own whereabouts or actions.
Unfortunately for the viewer, it isn’t very hard to figure out this “who done it?” Though I consider myself very literate in film, I will be the first to admit that I am not good at figuring out mystery movies. I had this one figured in 45 minutes, which left exactly half the movie for me to sit and wish it would get to the point. The charm of a murder mystery is to keep the audience guessing and this movie didn’t even get rolling before the audience knew who the murderer was. This movie was worse than stereotypical in the genre, it was bad. The clues Kaufman leaves for the audience are too obvious as is the direction he tries to steer them in.
A poorly written script doesn’t help this flick either. Even though it isn’t necessary in all mystery or horror flicks, a good script might have made up some ground where the rest of the movie failed. Satisfactory performances from the cast are the only elements that keep the film afloat. Ashley Judd gives her usual performance: good but not great. Andy Garcia is type cast as the subdued but intense cop. He tries to give us a feeling of loyalty to Judd’s character, who is his partner, but it never really gets across well. I’m not really sure whether this is his acting or the director’s fault, but it isn’t portrayed well regardless. Samuel L. Jackson surprisingly doesn’t play his typical role where he intensely shouts every one of his lines. His character is much calmer and restrained, which I have to admit was a pleasant change.
Kaufman gives us thoroughly unimaginative directing. He uses cliched editing and uninspired camera effects. In fact, it seems like a film that is straight out of Hollywood’s formula box. I have a feeling this movie was released knowing good and well of its low quality. The producers are most likely trying to get at least some money back from their investment by releasing it. It was not promoted extensively, which also leads me to the conclusion that few were willing to spend money on the finished product.
I would give this movie a C. Even with all its deficiencies, it is still a movie and therefore entertaining. If you do go see this movie, don’t expect much out of it. Decent acting and an uninspired story are all this movie has to offer you.