ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Judd’s Twisted never really gets twisted
Starring: Ashley Judd, Andy Garcia, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Philip Kaufman
By Mark Polishuk
STAR IN ANY MO' MUTHAFUCKIN' CRIME THRILLERS, ASHLEY!" Samuel L. Jackson
gives Ashley Judd a stern talking (top); Judd later realizes the error
in her ways.
Stop the presses: Ashley Judd is in a mediocre crime thriller.
Twisted is Judd’s latest attempt to match the success of 1997’s
Kiss the Girls, her only starring role that was both financially and critically
successful. This film, however, is more akin to second-rate movies like High
Crimes and Double Jeopardy, where the plot never evolves beyond “Ashley
Judd is in danger and walks around looking pretty.”
Judd stars as San Francisco cop Jessica Shepard, who rises to the rank of
detective in spite of a troubled childhood; her cop father went on a killing
spree, taking her mother’s life and his own. Despite being raised and
trained by her father’s partner, John Mills (Jackson), Jessica is clearly
still haunted by her past, often using excessive force on suspects and going
on self-destructive drinking and sexual binges with a series of one-night stands.
Her love life comes back to haunt her, however, as her first case with new
partner Mike Delmarco (Garcia) is the murder of one of her ex-lovers. More
of Jessica’s former flings quickly end up dead, leaving Jessica to wonder
why she is being targeted.
From there, the movie devolves into a pretty standard whodunit. Is it Jessica’s
abusive cop ex-boyfriend Jimmy (Mark Pellegrino)? Is it her vaguely creepy
psychiatrist, Dr. Frank (David Straitharn)? Or could it even be Delmarco, who
spends his spare time following her around town?
The most likely suspect could be the audience, as watching this film would
drive anyone to homicide. It is one of those mysteries that doesn’t intend
to give the audience clues, preferring instead to just whack off the suspects
one-by-one and then reveal everything in a “let the villain explain the
plan” scene. Despite this, anyone with even a general knowledge of mystery
will be able to guess the killer’s identity pretty quickly.
Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Quills) has made some good films in the past, but
does absolutely nothing both visually and thematically to elevate this average
screenplay. Everything about Twisted seems tired, including the cinematography
(San Francisco has never looked less scenic in a movie) and the acting. The
only actor that doesn’t seem to be phoning in his acting is Garcia, who
plays Delmarco as a slightly perverted Al Pacino.
Even more troubling is the sense of misogyny that pervades the entire film.
Though the point is supposed to be that Jessica eventually proves herself both
as a police officer and as a woman, the ending doesn’t support this development.
The result is scene after scene of Jessica being browbeaten by men, leaving
viewers with a bad taste in their mouths. It also doesn’t help that there
are literally only two other women in the movie: Camryn Mannheim as a forensics
expert and the little old Asian lady who constantly peeps into Jessica’s
Twisted could have benefited from a few more twists, rather than following
every thriller cliché in the book. Hopefully Judd, who is a good actress
if given good material to work with, has gotten Kiss The Girls out of her system
and is ready to stop associating herself with these lame movies.