Jessica Shepard (Ashley Judd) is a San Francisco street cop who has just been
promoted to detective. Her first case involves tracking a serial killer who has
a peculiar choice of victim: ex-lovers with whom Jessica shared her promiscuous and sexually violent lifestyle. Horrified, Jessica attempts to keep this information
away from her mentor (Samuel L. Jackson) and her partner (Andy Garcia), as she
tries to put the pieces together. But plagued by blackouts and her own
disagreeable demeanor, Jessica begins suspect herself as the killer when the
clues start pointing to her.
"Twisted" (IMDb listing) is a psychosexual thriller along the lines of the Joe Eszterhas
screenplays that littered the 1990s film landscape ("Basic Instinct,"
"Showgirls"). And much like those films, it's an overheated, needlessly complex
motion picture that eventually just gives up on itself. It doesn't even cross
over into shameful guilty pleasure country, like Eszterhas's "Sliver" or "Jade."
"Twisted" is just a cleanly cut, old-fashioned bad movie.
Written by freshman Sarah Thorpe, "Twisted" opens with the sights and smells of
a decent cop thriller, complete with a delicious mean streak trait that is
shared by all the characters. The only real hero is Jessica, and she's a
law-bending, one-night-stand-loving officer of the people, who is also prone to
excessive drinking and rough sex. You just don't see that type of behavior from
a lead character anymore. The director is Philip Kaufman, a filmmaker who knows
a thing or two about kinky corners of sexuality ("Henry and June, "Quills"), as
well as excessive film quality ("The Right Stuff"), and he seems a perfect
choice to infuse "Twisted" with a creepy vibe of impending doom in both the
homicide sense and between the sheets.
However, "Twisted" dies at almost the very moment it begins. Logic is a big
tripwire, and the script sidesteps a lot of problems by having characters just
disappear for no reason, or in Jessica's case, simply blackout. The ending is
also a jumble, makes no sense, and feels like the
product of a screenwriter who was already two weeks late on delivering a draft
and needed something quick. The entire film is poorly paced and awkwardly
constructed, leaving little interest in the thriller proceedings that pop up
occasionally to remind the audience what they came for.
Ashley Judd is another blunder of the film. I've liked Judd in the past,
especially in her trademark thriller roles ("Double Jeopardy," "High Crimes"),
but she falters massively trying to bring Jessica to life. The appeal of the
textured character is evident, but Judd can't quite get a grip on the
psychological complexity of the role, relying on a hard-ass approach that her
elfish features betray. As Jessica's world continues to dissolve and suspicions
arise, Judd just gets worse, peaking with one scene that asks this hardened cop
to open the floodgates of tears, unexpectedly eliciting big laughs in the
Filmfodder Grade: D-