Sony // 1998 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // June 21st, 2003
Go south of the border for a sexy, sultry thriller.
DEA/FBI/OMD agent Cara Landry gets demoted from the force when a big time bust goes bonkers (and we ain't talking about her ample bosoms). She ends up creating some "collateral damage" when she shoots some toddler's face off. (Come on, it's not like he was Elian Gonzales.) Anyway, fast-forward a few frames and she takes a desperation assignment in Mexico, where she is supposed to spy on the rather non-descript criminal activities of Damian Medina. He's a drug runner, or maybe he's involved in illegal gambling, or perhaps he has something to do with the creation of counterfeit cash -- it's really not all that clear. Anyway, he's one bad churro and our covert flirt is supposed to unholy his guacamole. So she gets a job in his casino juggling his...roulette balls. One thing leads to another (and one ancillary softcore sex scene leads to nothing important) as we are treated to limited intrigue, difficult to decipher criminal plans, and incredibly cluttered motives. Eventually, a whacked-out MIT mastermind named Garrett Scott starts to think that our Cara is not all she's cracked or stacked or racked up to be and warns Medina. But our smitten smuggler won't budge until he's sampled the curvaceous croupier for himself. The Feds start to wonder what side of the sopapilla Cara's sugar is stuck to. Eventually, some manner of Medina criminal enterprise is uncovered, crosses are doubled, rifles recoil, and good concurs evil in a firefight that lasts longer than the number of bullets the participants are supposed to have. In the end, we learn that the worst kinds of dishonesty are Naked Lies...huh?
Naked Lies is a movie that, like its title, seems to mean something at first, but upon closer inspection really adds up to nothing at all. It's a strange motion picture experience. The script metes out information on a strictly need-to-know basis, and yet by the end we still haven't been filled in completely. We barely understand the plot. We have no idea who the characters are or what they are supposed to represent, and any sub-plots or double-dealing seems lost under a big fat layer of screenwriter white out. In place of suspense, it uses long, mostly dull scenes of too perfect people exploring each others orifices as an excuse for dramatic pauses and sets up Shannon Tweed as some manner of cold as steel vixen when she's really a Playmate quickly going to hayseed. Frankly, for a woman who is arguably in her mid-40s, Ms. Tweed doesn't look a day over 55. She's got a strange, plastic surgery matron mask look about her. Her eyes seem too wide and her lips pulled across like a bottom feeding catfish. When she's all gussied up, she resembles a wealthy 5th Avenue socialite about five years past her prime scanning the Prada section of Saks for skirts that no longer flatter her varicose veins. Several times throughout the course of Naked Lies (what exactly are clothed lies?), she seems like a candidate for a fashion victim makeover with Trinny and Susannah of What Not To Wear. Over the course of dozens of B, C, and G grade "erotic" thrillers, the common law Mrs. Simmons has developed into a decent actress with good timing and interesting line delivery. But the cat and mouse skin seduction grows irritating between her character and the suave drug dope Medina. She plays it cool and coy. He's like a drunken teenager on prom night.
But here's the bad news for those of you tuning your attention level to this title based on the desire to see Ms. Tweed shed her panty and dress shields and do the naked wombatusi. She eventually does drop trou and truss and cuddle up in obtuse positions with her Hispanic paramour. But the scene comes one hour into a 90 minute movie and lasts about 37 seconds. That's right. Co-star Fernando Allende, apparently popular in Central and South America for his uncanny resemblance to a hand puppet, has several scenes of horizontal and occasionally vertical vortexing with other actresses of various and sundry siliconed attributes. But Shannon must have been on some manner of nudity restrictions during this movie. Or maybe she thought her exceptional performance as a troubled, tainted cop would more than compensate for the audience's inability to count her chest moles. Advertising a Shannon Tweed "joint" as an erotic, atomic, supersonic thriller and then giving us 14 seconds of gnarled breast flesh and a crepey chicken neck seems like a case for the bawdy Better Business Bureau. We want Shannon in wild abandon, with her balalaika's ringing out and her back street appropriately filled with boys. Along with its marginally involving storyline, next to impossible to decode criminal content, and a supporting cast of mediocre meat bags (aside from Steven Bauer, who still looks like he can't believe he lost Melanie Griffith to Don Johnson), the lack of Shannon in her shorthairs makes Naked Lies a tame, tangled mock-tease entertainment. It moves along at a decent enough pace, but at the end, you'll wonder why you bothered to hang around.
Columbia TriStar gives Naked Lies a rather mixed treatment on DVD. Sound and image are strong, with a decent 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image that suffers from only minor compression issues. What you will encounter mostly is pixelation in the action scenes (of which there are about two). Otherwise, the print is crisp and clean with good color details. Sonically, the Dolby Digital stereo makes Naked Lies a rather busy aural experience. The casino scenes try to pick up and amplify various characters as the camera moves around and there are several occasions where the speakers can't keep up. But the most bizarre part of the DVD presentation here is the inclusion of three other Shannon Tweed starring vehicle trailers, all of which look 100000% more exciting, sexy, and interesting than the movie here. Anyone who goes to the special features menu first and watches these intense teasers, looking to recreate a "theatrical preview" motif for their digital viewing, will probably yank this disc out of their machine and truck it on back to Buckbluster for one of the other titles touted. Especially intriguing is No Contest, starring Almost Ms. Kiss as a Beauty Pageant hostess and Andrew "Dice" Clay and Rowdy Roddy Piper (read those names again, sleaze fans) as terrorists who take the competition and its comely lasses hostage. That description alone makes it a much bigger must-see than Naked Lies, a film that can't offer stunt casting or equally outrageous scenarios to sell its spongy, smoggy storyline.
Thanks to a substantial lack of Tweed-less Shannon and an overall malaise in unlawful intent, what should have been a gun and groin poppin' party ends up a limp loser that no amount of Spanish fly could enliven.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R