February, 2004, Mystery

How appropriate is the review date for this one; the extra day in leap year, not due to return until the year 2008. May it be that long before audiences have to suffer another thriller as completely inept as this loopy exercise in pop-Freudian psychology...

Director Philip Kaufman has done some fine work in his long career, mixing solid commercial successes, (The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being) with the quirky (Quills, Henry & June) and the strictly commercial, (Rising Sun, Great Northfield Minnesota Raid) but never has he delivered anything this sloppy and disorganized. Wasting the talents of a fine cast, (Ashley Judd, Samuel Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn) Twisted follows newly-promoted policewoman Jessica Shepard, (Judd) as she struggles with her first homicide investigation, tracking a serial killer whose victims, not coincidentally, just happen to be a collection of her one-night stands.  

Judd's played this part before--the strong, feminine professional confronting violent evil, (High Crimes, Double Jeopardy, Eye of the Beholder, Kiss the Girls) but even an actress with her successful track record in this kind of material can't survive the combination of inane plot elements and shallow character development dished out by screenwriter Sarah Thorp, whose maiden voyage in this genre ought be her last. Jackson plays John Mills, the former partner of Shepard's father. Mills has raised Shepard after her parent's murder/suicide years earlier, and as San Francisco's chief of police, he orchestrated her rapid rise on the force. Now saddled with a mercurial new partner in homicide, (Garcia) and the obligatory departmental shrink (Strathairn)--both of whom are solicitous one moment, suspicious the next --Shepard indulges in a series of solitary drinking bouts which cause blackouts that affect her work, and possibly her involvement as a suspect in the very investigation she's supposed to be heading…

From boom mikes that frequently appear at the top of the frame to outbursts from Garcia that make no sense whatsoever to the plot's utterly asinine resolution in the final reel, this amateurish effort only serves to embarrass everyone involved with it. 

Even on bargain night at the video store, this one ain't worth the time or the effort, much less the money. 

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