Starring Ashley Judd and Samuel L. Jackson. Rated 14A.
Sarah Thorp's screenplay for Twisted reminds me of something Joe Eszterhas would churn out after undergoing a sex change. Like Basic Instinct--or any of the potboilers penned by Eszterhas in the '90s--this is yet another dated attempt to attach deeply psychological motivations to a slice 'n' dice thriller. Sure, Thorp attempts to work in a few feminist touches. The female protagonist (Ashley Judd, looking like a pixie on steroids) is clearly tough, smart, and ambitious. But in the true spirit of this sort of thing, she also happens to be a hard-core alcoholic and a sex addict who's tortured by the fact that her cop dad killed her mother in a drunken rage.
Judd plays Jessica Shepard, a San Francisco detective who has recently been promoted to homicide inspector. Her rapid rise is partly due to the mentoring skills of police commissioner John Mills (a slumming Samuel L. Jackson). Mills also happens to be the former partner of Jessica's father and the guy who raised Jessica after the death of her parents. Yet even though Mills trained his surrogate daughter to be a terrific detective, he has no control over her secret dark side. After a hard day at the office, Jessica likes to pick up strange men and hump them vigorously. In her more solitary moments, she drinks red wine until she passes out.
Jessica's private life starts to interfere with her job when her one-night stands begin to turn up brutally murdered. Thanks to her alcoholic blackouts, she can't account for her whereabouts during the murders. Soon even Jessica begins to doubt her innocence. Sound shaky? You bet. Although Judd has built a solid reputation as the gutsy queen of Women in Jeopardy movies, she can't save this one.
Director Philip Kaufman attempts to tighten things up by introducing a number of red herrings in the form of leering male suspects (a tired-looking Andy Garcia among them), but the only real mystery here is why Kaufman--the director of such diverse films as Quills, The Right Stuff, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being--would stoop this low.