By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
It looks like this is going to be the year of the bad thriller. If that's the price we pay for getting awesome action movies like Grindhouse, then I guess it's worth it. Perfect Stranger may not be as ridiculously awful as Premonition, but it's not even as entertainingly executed as Disturbia.
Another Bad Thriller: Perfect Stranger
Halle Berry plays investigative reporter Rowena (Ro for short) who likes to expose shady politicians. She gets pissed that one was powerful enough to have her story killed, but then her friend turns up dead giving her another focus. Suspecting her internet lover Harrison HIll (Bruce Willis), Ro gets a temp job at his company to start investigating him. That should get her close enough, but she decides to do IM chat too because the movie needs a hook.
You can tell right away what kind of movie this is with the absolutely shallow talk of a free press, citing the example of burying photos from the Iraq war. Yup, that's a screenwriter who caught the right episode of The Daily Show.
The dialogue is peppered with dramatic statements that want you to think they're shocking and revelatory, but they're not. "Stroke a man's d*** and you'll get him one night, stroke a man's ego and get him for life" sounds like a line from Showgirls. "Show me a beautiful woman and I'll show you a man who's tired of f***ing her" may be true, but who's fault is that? The dropping of F bombs is neither edgy nor sexy.
They're playing it too intense. This isn't that serious. It's just a murder mystery with a little sex (very little). That's an exploitation movie. Making it about internet chat doesn't give it social relevance, particularly because the chat has nothing to do with the mystery. Hill is a successful womanizer without needing to go online, and his suspicion isn't about being a predator, it's just that his lover threatened to tell his wife, which happens in real world affairs too.
They sample Hill's voice so that the chat sessions can speak like Bruce Willis. Now we've all heard what digital voice sounds like in real life, but you can give them that movie device. There are some cute scenes where Rowena makes fun of the cybersex she's engaged in, and a few techno-thrills with sneaking around the office, but those are just hints of actual suspense.
Remember when these thrillers actually had sex in them? I mean, seeing the back of Berry's breasts is pretty hot, but it's probably a double. And her bumping up on her lover has potential but it's just a tease. Now the only outrageous thing she really does in the movie is vomits on screen.