Picks and Pans Review: Twisted

updated 03/08/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn


With age come wisdom and perspective—and the ability to pick out who's the killer within the first couple of minutes of a mediocre murder mystery like this one. Twisted, this year's entry in the now seemingly annual Judd woman-in-peril series (see Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy and High Crimes), features the actress playing Jessica Shepard, a tough but troubled San Francisco cop with a predilection for rough sex with strangers. When those strangers start turning up beaten to a dead pulp, Shepard finds herself investigating a case in which she is the obvious prime suspect. In trying to find out what's really going on, can she trust her cute, seemingly supportive new partner (Garcia)? Or her adoptive father (Jackson), the police commissioner who raised her from childhood after her own cop dad went on a killing spree? The movie gets sillier by the scene, leading to a dockside denouement (complete with barking seals) that is so hackneyed, everyone connected with it seems barely able to suppress a yawn. No reason to be as polite yourself.

Director Philip Kaufman (Quills) opens the film with beautifully moody shots of a fogbound San Francisco but makes no other discernible attempts to raise the bar. Judd, signaling that she's a tough cookie with her short hair, swagger and omnipresent leather jacket, tries hard but can't transcend the fundamentally nonsensical nature of her role. Jackson gives exactly as much effort as the material deserves, while Garcia tries to play subtext where there is none. (R)

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