starring Ashley Judd, Sam Jackson and Andy Garcia

2 stars


review by Stephen Notley

It's kinda tough to generate much enthusiasm for thrillers these days, particularly ones that creep unheralded into theatres with lame titles like "Twisted". We're so used to the way they work, with some improbable situation and a plot that yanks back and forth casting aspersions and suspicions on various members of the cast until we get to the end and have it all explained to us. The good ones like Seven and The Usual Suspects give us startling things to see on the way to the big reveal; the lame ones just kinda chunk along.

In Twisted, one of the lame ones, Ashley Judd is a cop newly promoted to inspector; she's good though she kinda likes beating on the suspects a bit. She's also into hitting sleazy bars and taking losers home for some rough sex. No problem, except that pretty soon dead bodies start washing up out of the bay and they're all guys she'd humped within the last month or so.

So, that's the thriller premise: she's investigating a murder case where she's her own best suspect. Throw in some blackouts at critical times and an obvious anger problem, plus some backstory about how her dad went psycho and killed her mom and himself when Ashley was 6, and she starts to wonder if she's actually the killer. We wonder too, but not that much, cuz this doesn't feel like the kinda movie where it's gonna turn out she's really the perp. No, in this kind of movie it's gonna be one of the other B+ stars whose names we saw in the opening credits, so we glance about at Sam Jackson and Andy Garcia and David Strathairn and receive the various hints that point us in one way or the other as to which one of them is playing whatever preposterous psycho head game on her.

"Taut" is a word thriller-producers hope reviewers use when describing their movie, but in this case "slack" is the word that slouches to mind. Once the basic idea is set things get predictable in that mechanically unpredictable way of the modern thriller. She blacks out, another body turns up, she gets mad and beats on somebody with an "uara" -- an Asian pummeling stick-- some hints are dropped that maybe it's this guy or that guy, and then she blacks out again. Rinse and repeat. It gets kinda dull, since none of what's going on is all that striking or engaging or cool. There's a tremble of a theme about how people give her a hard time for her promiscuous lifestyle and her telling them it's none of their damn business who she humps, but it's pretty fuzzy, and that's about it for engaging character material. So, we just mark time through a few beatings and blackouts until the movie finally consents to end and spill the beans about what's been going on.

This movie's got some pedigree --hey, Sam Jackson, Ashley Judd, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn, these people charge real money to be in movies-- but it's a rather underachieving bit of business. I wasn't startled, or challenged, or even thrilled, really. I was just kinda bored.

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