Quick question: shouldn’t b-movies be reserved for struggling actors looking for that one big break? That said, Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank is delectably good in the low budget thriller Fatale. Second question: does the fact that it stars Swank, Michael Ealy, and Mike Colter pull it out of b-movie status? So many questions.
Deon Taylor’s Fatale is the story of sports agent Derrick (Michael Ealy), who, with his partner, Rafe (Mike Colter), built a large and reputable business. After receiving a considerable offer to buy the company, Rafe wants to sell, but Derrick feels he could do more (foreshadowing?). Life at home for Derrick is icy. His wife Tracie (Damaris Lewis) feels the two are drifting apart as Derrick is not precisely thrilled with her success as a real estate agent.
Later, during a “boys” weekend in Vegas, Derrick meets Valarie (Hilary Swank). She is under a great deal of stress in her own life, and the two have a wild and passionate weekend together as only complete strangers can do.
Derrick’s infidelity shook him. Returning home, he turns a new leaf by supporting Tracie and her business endeavors and agreeing to start a family. That night there’s a break-in at their home, and Derrick beats the intruder to a bloody pulp, but he gets away. When the police are called, who shows up as the lead investigator? Valarie, of course.
“…the two have a wild and passionate weekend together as only complete strangers can do.”
The rest of Fatale plays out like a typical noir-thriller. Valarie uses the affair to gain leverage over Derrick, who wants to use him to deal with her ex-husband to get custody of their daughter. Because of Valerie, bad things start happening to Derrick and Tracie, leading to a highly-charged erotic blood bath at the end. It’s very typical, so why cast A-list stars for such a b-movie plot? The easy answer is money… which is probably the right one.
Cynicism aside, Fatale is an incredibly fun film, and you’ll be screaming, “OMG. That’s Hilary Swank!” all the way to the end. It’s not a groundbreaking narrative or movie, for that matter, but there are no glaring flaws. If there is a weakness, it’s in the opening as information about Derrick’s business and personal life are revealed. It’s blatantly obvious that you can see the insanity coming a million miles away. Thankfully, director Deon Taylor chose to rush through it like a bullet train and head straight to the action.
Ealy is excellent as Derrick. I felt sympathy for his character, and he plays him just right, never feeling schmaltzy at all. Swank deserves a great deal of credit for this part. Though the role of Valarie falls far below her roles in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, she goes for it, never phoning it in, for what I’d guess is a decent paycheck at the end.
In terms of story, there are some tiny swerves that may catch you off-guard, like the moment you think Derrick is guilty or the fact that Valarie has a good reason for doing what she’s doing. Fatale never takes itself too seriously, considering there are some serious actors in it. In the end, it’s all good fun and a great film to turn on when you want to hang out with friends and see something truly insane.
"…OMG. That's Hilary Swank!"