By Peter Lowry | March 18, 2004

On paper, ‘Twisted’ has a wealth of potential. We have director Philip Kaufman, the same guy who delivered films like “The Right Stuff”, “Rising Sun” and “Quills” to the big screen. Then we have a very talented lead by Ashley Judd who is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s best bankable female leads. Also along for the ride are some big name actors such as Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia in the film’s supporting roles. Yet when it’s all said and done, the only thing that’s really “Twisted” about this film is the audience for paying good money to endure over ninety minutes of cliched and predictable crap. So why is this movie a complete flop? I’ll take badly written and ridiculous plots for $200, Alex! I can’t say this enough: good casting doesn’t always make a good movie. The only thing a good cast can do is take a good script and make it better, possibly great. Yet if the storyline and writing are weak, your boat’s already sprung a leak and it’s going down… fast. “Twisted” not only has the bad story/plot, but also suffers from horrible, cliched writing that just reeks the place up to high heaven. It’s carbon copied cop drama that’s stale, devoid of any life and with an ending that everyone saw coming a mile away. Nothing could have saved this film, making it possibly one of the worst movies of 2004.
Ashley Judd plays Jessica Sheppard, a newly promoted detective that begins her new job with a case that is as savage as it is personal. While Judd has some interesting moments, her overall showing in this picture is flat and horribly miscast. Absolutely nothing in this film comes as a surprise, and one of the major reasons for its lack of suspense was Judd’s poor performance. She can’t convince the audience what her character is supposed to be going through, and as a result the rest of the film becomes a joke rather than a suspense filled thriller. Judd’s character also happens to be a nasty, hot tempered slut that the audience can’t seem to sympathize with. She even assaults other cops for merely making jokes, tainting whatever respect we had for this independent and hard working cop and virtually sucking the life out of the film. Since we couldn’t care less about the principal character, it was extremely difficult to give a s**t about the plot, which wasn’t that good to begin with…
Then we have the supporting cast, which consists of some pretty good character actors that despite doing all right were unable to save the film from mediocrity. Talented men such as Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia were convincing in their roles, but were able to do very little with the material they were given. The real scene stealer happened to be Camryn Manheim as the compassionate and intelligent medical examiner. Her performance is the only one in the entire film that seems real and seems to be the only character you really give a s**t about. The role looks horribly cut down for time as well, which is a shame because she was really the only bright spot in the entire film. The movie ran for only ninety minutes, what was the reason for this rush to edit out what might have been the film’s only performance of true quality? I haven’t seen a film this poorly made since last year’s mother of all bombs… “Charlie’s Angels 2”. (gasp!)
Like I said before, the actors and directors shouldn’t be forced to take the brunt of the blame for this and various other pitiful films. Many failures or successes all start and end with writing. Rather than amuse the audience with something smart and original… we’re forced to watch a movie that is filled with one cliche after another and twists that are not surprising at all. The motivation for the villian’s crimes are never really fully explored, leaving too many holes for the audience to believe there was sufficient closure. While the film does its best to offer numerous suspects (many whom disappear without a trace), it’s a shame the only ones the writer eventually decides to use to any significant degree are only the most obvious choices which made the ending extremely easy to predict. When the killer is eventually revealed, no one is surprised and the payoff is nothing more than a cold, undercooked disappointment. Its blatant attempt to generate suspense at the end with a ‘final confrontation’ is pulled right out of a 1970s cop show… and it fails to save a film that was already dead on arrival. Anyone with half a brain could put together the supposed mystery of this movie and when the audience is laughing out loud at what’s supposed to be a serious scene, the film has failed… miserably I might add.
How many times can an audience watch Ashley Judd black out before they start to laugh out loud? The answer is three because the repetition of this scene basically stripped it of all seriousness. By that point, most of the audience was on the ball and already aware of what was going on, which caused many of them to laugh at the fact that the main character was too stupid. She’s supposed to be this big shot homicide detective, but she can’t figure out something that joe average watching the film managed to figure out a long, long time before anyone in the film every could. Simply shameful. When Judd blacks out the nineteenth time, not only did everyone no longer give a s**t, but I could hear annoyed whispers coming from the crowd. They were fed up with the film at this point, and they were not alone.
Overall, “Twisted” is a horrible waste of talent, time and money and has the potential to be one of the worst films 2004 has to offer. It’s really sad to watch good actors try their best to work with a script that is clearly beyond saving. It’s like watching a fly trying to wiggle its way out of a spider’s web. You know the little bastard is dead, but you root for the little guy anyway despite his guaranteed appointment with oblivion. I had a bad feeling that it was going to be a long ninety minutes when I started to check my watch less than a half hour into the film. By the forty-minute mark, I started to amuse myself by looking at Ashley Judd’s hair length and style, which seemed to change every five or six scenes. Just like the writing… everything with this film seems to be made with little care and no respect for the audience who paid money to see it. Its predictable twists and cliched plot make for a very boring time at the local theatre, making this a film that everyone should skip until it reaches their local Blockbuster.
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