Rowena Price is an investigative journalist looking to take down her next big fish. That comes in the form of Harrison Hill, the man she presumes killed her friend (or does she?). Using her technological wizard friend and her undercover skillz, can she stop Harrison Hill (or perhaps herself?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Perfect Stranger.
How?! Rowena Price is an investigative reporter extraordinaire. She just loves breaking stories and taking names. But when her latest target gets away using his influence with her newspaper, she quits in disgust. A new big story is right on the horizon, though, when her childhood friend, Grace, shows up and reveals a steamy fling with big time ad man Harrison Hill. Rowena isn’t super interested until Grace turns up dead and Harrison isn’t even on the police’s radar. Using the mad hacking skillz of her friend Miles, she infiltrates Harrison’s company as a temp and catches his eye immediately. She also starts chatting with him via a dark web chat service and begins to compile evidence. Rowena plays hard to get, but uses Harrison’s attraction to her to attempt to hack his computer. When he walks in and accuses her of being a spy, she plays it off like she was leaving an innocent note. Harrison doesn’t totally believe her but like… she’s Halle Berry. Come on! So he says “fine, let’s go on a date,” at which he discovers text messages that totally blow her cover. Enraged, Harrison confronts her, but controls his anger and lets her go. While she’s still trying to figure out how to finish the story, Miles goes to the company himself and discovers the key to getting the police to look into Harrison. Meanwhile, Rowena discovers that Miles is a total creep, but that’s not important yet. In the end they are able to get the police to arrest Harrison and discover enough evidence to get him convicted. In the end, though, it’s revealed in a shocking twist that Rowena actually killed Grace and then set up the whole story because Grace had been blackmailing her. Miles figures this out and attempts to blackmail her too, but she kills him and we end wondering whether this terrible person will be arrested or not, but we also don’t care because we are so thrilled by the amazing twist or whatever. THE END.
Why?! The motivation in the film is the reason why reviewers were irritated with it. Like, Rowena kills Grace because she stole her boyfriend and was blackmailing her and stuff… and she totally gets away with it. Miles didn’t suspect her, Grace’s family didn’t suspect her, her boyfriend didn’t suspect her, and the police didn’t suspect her. Not a single person of importance suspected her. And yet she goes out of her way to do a deep, deep, deep investigation into the murder in order to frame Harrison Hill, a man she has never met, for a murder that no one actually thinks she did. And all while doing this she allows for Miles to figure out that she was the murderer, leading her to have to murder him and try to cover that up too. It’s… not great.
Who?! I agree with Patrick’s assessment that Ribisi’s character is a Planchet. He’s pining over Rowena while she doesn’t give him the time of day (despite being an elite hacker that does most of the heavy lifting in the investigation). He turns out to be a total creep, but before that he was a lamester Planchet for sure. We also have a cameo by Heidi Klum and per usual one of Bruce Willis’ daughters makes an appearance, this time Emma Heming Willis plays Donna.
What?! Finally we have some product placement to talk about! Much like in The Intruder, we are blessed with a main character who’s a rising star (or already risen star) in the advertising world. We see him charming high society at a Victoria’s Secret party for which Rowena stuffed an uncountable number of signature bags. We also see him putting the Heineken team at ease during a meeting (and this seemed to work on Rowena as she also drinks Heineken throughout the film). In fact, why even have the whole muddled murder plot? I am here for all this product placement.
Where?! Very solid NYC film. It even seemed like it focused on the advertising world in part because of the setting. ‘A modern day Mad Men!” say the Bad Movie Twins. “Marketing like you’ve never seen it before!” they rave while slam dunking Hienekens in our Reebok pumps at the big Victoria’s Secret show. A-.
When?! There actually are a couple scenes with exact dates on them. Not sure they are all entirely consistent, but the one that’s very clear is a website with a number of news articles all dated 2/22/2006 and a date in the corner indicating that that’s the current date. That’s good enough for me and also makes it pretty clear we ain’t dealing with any secret holidays or anything. Booooo. C+.
Blah. Just blah. A boring film about terrible people being terrible and boring. Even the twist was kinda boring. Sure it turned out that the hero was actually the villain (as I expected), but I was also kinda hoping Grace would turn out to be a ghost. Alas, can’t win ‘em all. I really do think the issue with the motivation is what makes this so infuriating. Like… why? Why would she investigate the murder that she committed? There are some potential reasons, but most of them are dumb and I won’t even go into them. I really wish they just revealed that everything she ever did was a frame job. That her entire career was based on committing crimes, framing people for them, and then collecting Pulitzer Prizes for the revealing investigative reports she writes about the crimes she committed. In fact, I just copyrighted that. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! If I made this movie I would called it What a Twist! Because that’s what the movie is about. The twist at the end. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I think I was hoping this would be a return to form for the classic BMT erotic thriller. The Color of Night was an amazing BMT back in the day. And the genre is so scarce and fleeting to find another one (starring Willis no less) is quite fun. What were my expectations? Some gross erotic thriller action. Sock it to me! Pretend that like … pouring wax on one another is the pinnacle of sensuality put to film.
The Good – If you wanted to point at an erotic thriller that does a good job of explaining the reality of an erotic thriller look no further: these people wouldn’t all be suave rich people having sex with each other. They would be a bunch of gross people and then maybe a rich person exploiting them while a bunch of sex happens. That’s what this film really feels like. Berry is a woman who was molested as a young girl, and whose friend seems to have been murdered by a rich dude. And Ribisi is a straight up alcoholic and obsessed with Berry to a profoundly depressing extent. That is what an actual erotic thriller looks like. And I’ll have to give the movie a bit of credit for that.
The Bad – The movie is sooooooooo boring. For a while I was wondering whether the film was just really really confusing. But I think it is the opposite. The movie is so boring that my mind was wandering during whatever exposition they were giving me, and I became confused later on. Even when it was trying to be like a cat-and-mouse chasing of a murderer type film there is nothing actually of interest. All of the grossness of the characters I mentioned in the good section is also bad … because it makes me not care the Ribisi is going to either be a serial killer or get killed at the end. I just don’t care about these people … that isn’t a good thing.
The BMT – Naw, this pales so much in comparison to the early 90s thrillers that I can’t even be bothered to care about this film in the end. It is very little narratively going for it, and in the end I think this will get lost in the BMT shuffle. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. I wanted just a fraction of that sweet erotic thriller schlock, and it game be less than nothing. It gave me a gross, boring mess. No me gusta, get that outta here.
Roast-radamus – In its own weird gross way I do think Ribisi could be considered a Planchet (Who?). His entire arc in the film is just being dunked on over and over and then killed. Because the film focuses on an ad executive you know there is going to be some insane Product Placement (What?). In this case we have a gigantic party with Victoria’s Secret, and a subplot involving Reebok. Both great. A very Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York complete with riverside murder scenes, subways, and obviously too expensive apartments floating on subprime mortgage money. And then we are at the Worst Twist (How?) with them revealing it was our hero all along! Even after it looks like she got away with it, she didn’t, such is like. The film is so boring it has an outside shot at Bad I think in the end.
StreetCreditReport.com – I’m not surprised this doesn’t have much cred. It is most notable for being boring and having an in your face awful twist. Also 2007 was one of the worst years in film as far as the sheer number of awful films being produced, so it can be forgive. It should get some credit for being a very-late-to-the-game erotic (ish) thriller at the very least.
You Just Got Schooled – For this one I ended up kind of accidentally discovering that The Last Boy Scout was the last time Bruce Willis and Halle Berry worked together prior to Perfect Stranger. I have to say, I loved it. It was a solid mix of 90s action with just enough sweaty noir to make everything kind of loose and fun. I thought both Willis and Wayans were amazing in this and I’m shocker they didn’t at least try to make a sequel, although I would have to assume it was Willis who decided he didn’t want to. The opening scene is still nuts, but it pretty quickly settled into great Willis/Wayans banter throughout. A. Legitimately, one of the most enjoyable homework assignments I’ve done for BMT.