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"Twisted" - Movie Review

  • Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
  • Updated Aug 03, 2007
"Twisted" - Movie Review

Release Date:  February 27, 2004

Rating:  R (for violence, language and sexuality)

Genre:  Drama

Director:  Philip Kaufman

Actors:  Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn, Russell Wong, Mark Pellegrino

Review:  Quick! Anybody out there want to be a screenwriter? Well now’s your big chance. Because judging from this film, Hollywood is in desperate need of a few.

Jessica Shepard (Ashley Judd) has just been promoted from police officer to homicide inspector for the San Francisco Police Department. Assigned to a serial murder case, she is shocked to discover that all of the male victims were her recent sex partners. This is because, in her spare time, Jessica goes to dives and picks up creepy-looking guys, has rough sex with them, then dumps them. She also has one-night-stands with fellow police officers and district attorneys – you name it. And, her new partner, Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia) has the hots for her, too.

Why, it’s hard to say. Although Jessica is cute – in a Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) look-alike way – she drinks herself into a stupor every night. She misses work every morning while struggling to wake up from her alcohol-induced coma, yet never wonders why she can’t remember anything from the night before. As if that isn’t enough to get her kicked off a new job (which never happens), she’s also violent. Jessica kicks a handcuffed felon in the face (in a ridiculously absurd opening scene), viciously breaks the nose of an ex-lover and karate-kicks a colleague when he wonders aloud how many victims she slept with. Meanwhile, Jessica tries to convince her assigned police shrink that she is the “perfect picture of mental health.”


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Of course, her father was a serial killer and her mother was also promiscuous. When Jessica was five, her dad went on a killing spree that ended with the murder of her mom and his suicide. So Dad’s partner, Police Commissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson), stepped in to raise the child. Even though all this happened around 1970, we’re supposed to believe that a single black man with no children was allowed to adopt a young white girl that he was not related to. Without revealing the ending – which I’m sure you’ll guess anyway – I’ll give you a few more absurdities that you’ll be expected to swallow.

Despite the inherent conflict of interest with the victims, Jessica is allowed to remain on the case. See, they don’t want to ‘alert’ the killer that they’re "onto a pattern." As if multiple killings with cigarette burns on the hand aren’t a pattern the killer wants them to figure out. We’re also supposed to accept that the San Francisco PD is full of psychotics, murderers and sex-addicts – as well as experienced detectives (all male) who hang on Jessica’s every inspired word. A brilliant medical examiner (Camryn Manheim) finds a speck of the killer’s blood, but only runs it through the “convicted felons” database – instead of all the databases, which would have immediately revealed the killer.

Then Jessica becomes a suspect, but even the fact that her blood doesn’t match the killer’s isn’t enough to get her off – or stop her from looking at pictures of her dead father’s body, which director Philip Kaufman shows us over and over, just in case we might believe that terrible story about Daddy. But if Jessica didn’t do it, who did? Don’t think too hard. After all, screenwriter Sarah Thorp didn’t. In fact, these unlikely scenarios are nothing compared to the ending, which makes no sense whatsoever.

The dialogue is stale and relies on tough-talk that does little to showcase the talents of these otherwise capable actors. I don’t know what in the world has happened to Samuel Jackson, who’s as terrible as he was in “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.” Garcia had me shaking my head in disbelief. Even Ashley Judd, who seems bound and determined to ruin her career after other thriller-flops like “Double Jeopardy,” “Kiss the Girls” and “High Crimes,” was unconvincing.

Cinematographer Peter Deming gives the film an artsy ‘noir’ feel with faded shots of San Francisco’s wharfs and city ruins. Mark Isham’s original musical score adds to the sinister ambience. Other than that, however, this film is a wash. The plot is a hackneyed cop-drama which gives that genre a terrible name. Kaufman, showing not a shred of inspiration from his 1988 cult hit, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” steals a scene from “The Silence of the Lambs,” then botches it. Other scenes will also have you groaning. At the end of the movie, Jessica says, “I thought you were the guy!” The suspect-turned-innocent replies, “I am the guy” (meaning, for her). At least he doesn’t wink.

Full of profanity, obscenities, drinking, partial nudity and implied sex, the film merits its R-rating. The only thing twisted about it, however, is the fact that it was made in the first place.