I will watch my future wife, Halle Berry, in anything, but I found her latest, “Perfect Stranger” a particular chore to sit through. Oh, she’s just fine in it, as is co-star Bruce Willis, but they are let down by the script at every opportunity.
The script to “Perfect Stranger” is a good example for why so few thrillers work today. Its plot is so contrived that it leaves the audience shaking its head in collective wonderment. Interesting characters, crackling dialogue and twists that evolve naturally from the story are no longer enough. Now scripts like “Perfect Stranger” boast plot machinations that would take a small country to carry off. Screenwriters need to learn that a satisfying story well told is much more satisfying than double and triple plot twists that stand on its head everything that’s gone before and that couldn’t possibly take place in the real world.
Add to this a tepid score that’s the aural equivalent of white wallpaper (why even bother?) and another grating performance by the creepy actor Giovanni Ribisi and you have a bad movie masquerading as an even worse thriller.
“Hot Fuzz” garnered extremely positive reviews when it opened last month. To that, I can only say, “Huh?”
“Hot Fuzz” is suppose to be an affectionate take-off on big-budget action movies produced by the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer. Since I consider the majority of Mr. Bruckheimer’s resume to represent everything that’s wrong in contemporary Hollywood cinema (i.e. “Bad Boys 2” which is referenced here), I did not feel particularly charitable towards “Hot Fuzz”.
One of the noisiest movies I’ve seen in awhile, “Hot Fuzz” comes loaded with all those irritating sound effects that mar movies today. A director can’t just cut to the next scene, it needs to be accompanied by a rapid camera movement accompanied by loud “whooshing” sounds at decibel levels normally reserved for sonic booms. This is repeated ad nausem throughout. If this is a parody of big budget action movies, it doesn’t work as this technique is, unfortunately, now commonplace in all types of movies big and small. It’s not clever the first time it’s done and wears out its welcome by the seventh and eighth, ninth, etc. times.
The sound recording struck me as particularly muddy as a lot of the actors tended to mumble their words, but the obnoxious rock soundtrack came through loud and clear, unfortunately.
At 121 minutes, it wears out its welcome by about 30 minutes. There are some funny bits here and there (the bit with a fugitive swan is priceless), but they are lost amongst the never ending noise.
One pleasant surprise: the actor playing the village parson looked familiar, but I could not place him. Reading the end credits, I saw it was Paul Freeman. Ah yes, the actor who played the rival French archaeologist in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Now THAT’S an action movie. It was good to see him again.