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Buy your copy from Amazon.com Perfect Stranger (2007) half starhalf starno starno starno star Starring: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Nicki Aycox, Richard Portnow, Paula Miranda, Clea Lewis, Gary Dourdan
Director: James Foley
Rating: R
Category: Suspense

Director James Foley would probably like to believe that his latest film, “Perfect Stranger,” is the next great thriller,  but what starts out as a mildly interesting concept quickly stumbles into a laughable farce that’s so invested in its big surprise ending it simply forgets about the other 100 minutes along the way. One could assume that the film’s principal cast signed on for the same exact reason, and quite honestly, it’s a shame that they did. Written by the men who brought us the equally formulaic “Taking Lives” and, um… the direct-to-DVD flicks “Resistance” and “Bad Seed,” “Perfect Stranger” promises a suspenseful night at the movies when all you really get is a bunch of poorly written dialogue executed via lengthy sessions on a generic instant message program.

Halle Berry stars as Rowena Price, an investigative reporter whose latest story about a homosexual New York senator is pulled when the key witness is paid off. Distressed over the fact that rich businessman can wash away their secrets with just one phone call, Rowena decides to call it quits, but when a childhood friend (Nicki Aycox) suddenly pops up dead, she decides to investigate the unsolved murder herself. This leads her to Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), CEO of a respected advertising agency, and with whom her friend apparently had been having an affair. All of the evidence points to him, but in order to confirm her suspicions, she must go undercover in both real-life (as a new temp) and online (as a flirtatious ex-employee) to catch him in the act.

If there’s one actress in Hollywood who’s both more overpaid and less talented than Scarlett Johansson, it’s Halle Berry. Both women are incredibly sexy, but they bring absolutely nothing to the table aside from their ravishingly good looks. Berry isn’t exactly in danger of receiving a Razzie for her performance, but that doesn’t make it any less excruciating to sit through. Willis, on the other hand, is even more disappointing in his role as the boss that everyone wants to fuck. We’ve all come to expect much more out of the veteran actor over the years (especially recently, where he's really let loose in some particularly juicy roles), but his performance here is stiffer than a starched collar.

It’s a good thing that Giovanni Ribisi is around to keep things relatively entertaining. The actor may have never capitalized on his “It” status of the late ‘90s, but he’s still a much better performer than his resume would suggest. Playing Miles, the tech-savvy best friend of Berry’s character, Ribisi serves double duty as the comic relief and red herring of the film, and walks away with the movie as a result. Of course, that’s not a very hard thing to achieve, since a majority of the film is so mind-numbingly dull that you’ll wish you had a hard metal object to bang your head against before the first act is even over.

“Perfect Stranger” isn’t just bad, it’s movie-of-the-week bad, and if that isn’t good enough reason to avoid this film when it arrives in theaters, chew on this: not only is the killer not who you think it is, or who the trailers want you to think it is, but its also the only person in the story that doesn’t logically make any sense. If I've given away too much, then tough luck. The tagline of the film may ask how far one would go to keep a secret, but if the secret isn’t worth keeping, what's the point?

DVD Features:
Nothing that Amazon is reporting on right now, but we’re sure a lame making-of featurette and alternate ending headline the lackluster selection of bonus material.

~Jason Zingale

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