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Case Number 05341: Small Claims Court

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First To Die

Lionsgate // 2003 // 162 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Diane Wild (Retired) // October 8th, 2004

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All Rise...

Judge Diane Wild doesn't spend many restless nights pondering this "made-for-TV-to-DVD" tripe.

The Charge

The honeymoon murders…to catch the killer, she'll become the bait.

The Case

First to Die was a television movie, now given extended life with its release to DVD. It might have been better to let it rest in peace. At almost 3 hours, the movie somehow manages to have too much going on and not enough at the same time.

Seattle homicide inspector Lindsey Boxer (Tracy Pollan, Promised Land) is on the case of a killer who stabbed a bride and groom from a prominent family on their wedding night. She is teamed with Captain Chris Raleigh (Gil Bellows, Ally McBeal), with whom she recently had a one-night stand. When it becomes apparent they are dealing with a serial killer who murders newlyweds on their honeymoon, Boxer brings together her friends—a reporter, a medical examiner, and an assistant D.A.—to form the Women's Murder Club and piece together the clues. Small complications include Boxer's developing relationship with Raleigh and the discovery that she's suffering from a possibly fatal blood disease.

Based on a book by James Patterson, the movie doesn't stand well on its own. Characters appear without explanation and there are brief scenes that never seem to go anywhere, including one of Boxer posing as a bride, which is the only 30 seconds of the movie that makes much sense of the tagline ("To catch the killer, she'll become the bait").

The first part of the film is full of CSI-style scenes of the crime scene and subsequent lab work, though it lacks the panache of that television show. The second part is dedicated to the pursuit of prime suspect Nicholas Jenks (Robert Patrick, The X-Files), a famous crime writer. This is where the movie should get interesting, but it's bogged down with endless scenes of Boxer and Raleigh's tepid romance, a tendency to become a disease-of-the-week movie, and plot twists that are either not very twisty or unbelievably convoluted.

Pollan and Bellows are likeable if wooden, but no one can make much of the stilted dialogue and gaping logic holes. The cast is full of familiar faces, including Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) as Boxer's friend the medical examiner, Sean Young (Blade Runner) as the main suspect's ex-wife, Angie Everhart (Bare Witness) as his current one, and Carly Pope (Popular) as the nervy young reporter who ingratiates herself with the Women's Murder Club.

By the end, I didn't care who dunnit or why. Lock 'em all up.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 64

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 162 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Television
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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