The third (and I'm guessing last, given this film's reception) in the Ashley Judd thriller "trilogy" ("Double Jeopardy", "High Crimes"), watching "Twisted", it becomes almost fascinating to wonder why Judd continues to want to typecast herself in this kind of role. This film, with its sexuality and somewhat darker nature, seems to be Judd's attempt to try what Meg Ryan attempted with "In The Cut", although not quite as dark. However, it didn't work for Ryan and it doesn't work particularly well for Judd, who gets stuck with a very average screenplay.
Jessica Shepard (Judd) has just been promoted by the San Fransisco police department to the Homicide division, after catching a suspect who she roughed up - a suspect whose father is the head of a major corporation. Despite her promotion, she has already gained a legion of enemies on the force, who believe her promotion has been due to favoritism, given the fact that comissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson) raised her since her father snapped when she was a child.
After roughing up the suspect, Shepard finds herself with a new partner, Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia). They come upon their first case together, and Shepard realizes that the body they've found is one of her ex-lovers. Shepard, who likes to pick up guys in bars for one nighters, thinks that it was just a coincidence. Still, Shepard, who passes out after drinking wine on most nights, finds that the situation didn't end with the first victim - more start appearing, with similar cigarette burns.
The Lieutenant (Russell Wong) wants Shepard off the case, but Mills wants her help in trying to lure the potential suspect out into the open. However, as more evidence starts to pile up, it becomes possible that Shepard herself in the suspect, and that she's doing these things when she's blacked out after drinking at night.
Director Philip Kaufman (who has previously helmed more upscale features such as "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", "Quills" and "Right Stuff"), does manage to lend "Twisted" very good atmosphere, as the film has a rather "noirish" thing going at times, with fine cinematography from Peter Deming ("Lost Highway").
However, he can't seem to work around the screenplay, which is a series of "twists" in place of much in the way of character development. The film's rather random final reveal is also a disappointment, especially given that the film has done a fairly decent job shifting the potential blame around for a while. The fact that the film hinges on Shepard's blacking out after drinking also is rather weak, as most in the audience will likely wonder why she just doesn't stop drinking for a while and see how that turns out.
The performances are merely okay, with Jackson being the only one who really invests any intensity in his role. Elsewhere, Garcia is wasted in a minor role and Judd does only an average job in the lead role. There are some decent supporting performances, but no real stand-outs. "Twisted" has the look down and a fine cast assembled, but the screenplay is a series of twists and bland dialogue.
VIDEO: "Twisted" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a perfectly fine transfer, although there are some concerns scattered throughout the show. Sharpness and detail are mostly satisfactory; the picture appears to have been shot with a slight-to-mild intentional softness, which is apparent here. Detail during the film's many dimly-lit sequences is just good, not great.
Problems include a couple of minor instances of edge enhancement and a trace or two of compression artifacts. Aside from those brief flaws, the presentation appeared fine. The print looked to be in excellent shape, with no noticable instances of specks, marks or other wear. Given the tone of the film, the color palette remained subdued, but the presentation appeared to offer the tones accurately.
SOUND: "Twisted" is presented by Paramount in Dolby Digital 5.1. The presentation is satisfactory, with a fine amount of surround use for occasional sound effects and some minor ambience. Dialogue remained clean and clear throughout, with no distortion or other flaws.
EXTRAS: Director Philip Kaufman provides a full-length audio commentary for the film. There are also three "behind-the-scenes" featurettes, "Creating a Twisted Web of Intrigue", "The Inspectors: Clues to the Crime" and "San Fransisco: Scene of the Crime". The director also provides audio commentary for a total of 10 deleted/extended scenes. Finally, previews for other Paramount titles such as "Mean Girls" are offered.
Final Thoughts: "Twisted"'s underdeveloped screenplay is the main fault - the film looks good, but the cast struggles to develop one-dimensional characters and plot. Paramount's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality and supplements. Maybe worth a rental for Judd fans.
The Film **