Anchor Bay // 2009 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // October 2nd, 2009
Only bullets tell the truth
When was the last time you saw a good movie with Christian Slater or Cuba Gooding Jr. as the leading men? Well, after a viewing of this misguided thriller it'll be a little bit longer than before.
Wes Wilson (Christian Slater, Heathers) is a best selling author whose life is about to take a turn for the worse. After suffering through the disappearance of his sultry fiancée Sam (Sarah Ann Schultz, Blonde Ambition), he is pursued across the country by her old boss (Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire), who is insistent that the vanished Sam stole something from him. Add in a sexy companion (Christa Campbell, Labor Pains) and a few tepid action moments and you have a generic and thoroughly awful piece of direct-to-DVD nonsense.
Talk about a hopeless movie. Lies and Illusions is a mind numbingly horrid thriller courtesy of some filmmakers I never want to see working again. The acting blows, the script is a twisted and utterly unbalanced mix of bad comedy and predictable thriller elements whilst the direction is consistently cumbersome and lazy. Even by lowering your expectations as far as they can humanly go, I still imagine most people will be horrified by this inept and shamefully amateurish attempt at conspiracy twaddle.
At 93 minutes the film feels a lot longer than it is, several badly written sequences drawn out to excruciating length simply to spite those forgiving enough to slot this thing in their disc drives. Writer Eric James couldn't pen a satisfying screenplay to save his life. He robs mercilessly from better efforts, stitching them together to concoct a painfully familiar and dull rash of a motion picture. His story zips along with all the energy of a semi-sedated slug, culminating in a trashy and poorly shot gun fight. There are also the recurrent attempts to add a comedic bent to the film, all of which fail haplessly in ways that might embarrass a 13-year-old. The twists and plot developments are mundane, nearly all obvious well before these insipid filmmakers feel the need to reveal them.
Slater is useless in the leading role, wooden and with any penchant he once had for action now fully evaporated. He struggles with the comedy and just looks goofy when trying to hold his own in high speed pursuits or lead pumping instances of idiocy; though in fairness he's no worse than his co-stars. Cuba Gooding is clearly interested only in what little money he earned for this slop, his lines delivered with no passion or menace. For most of the film he just has to sit in the back of a car and seem intimidating, but thanks to his lazy thesping he achieves only half of that whole. The women are here purely as plot devices and eye candy; Campbell's introductory scene for example manages to include a lingering shot down her ample cleavage. It's an offensive and crude attempt from director Tibor Takács to disguise the deficiencies displayed in his own ugly and visually repugnant style of shooting.
The musical score is decidedly repetitive and the low budget keeps the action scenes contained to a humiliatingly minor standard. This is the sort of endeavor that makes loving films so hard, because to find the good stuff you inevitably have to face stinkers such as Lies and Illusions, and boy, is this thing a stinker.
The DVD features audio and video presentation that rarely exceeds average and an 11-minute "making of" that just makes you sad for those involved. It almost looks like there are folks who are proud of this grotesque monstrosity. The phrase naive fools seems disturbingly appropriate.
It sucks. I wish I could elaborate a little further but in truth this indecent offering doesn't deserve any further analysis.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R