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‘Fatale’ enjoyable film but falls short

Movie Night with Bradley Griffith

“Fatale” enjoyed only a brief run in theaters before it became available for home rental. The good news is that you can now rent it at home for $5.99.

It’s a crime thriller with some decent twists, but was just short of the mark it was aiming for in almost every aspect.

Derrick Tyler (Michael Ealy) is a former college basketball player who has built a successful business from the ground up. Along with his best friend and business partner, Rafe Grimes (Mike Coulter), Derrick has built a thriving sports representation agency. He’s a sports agent, and a good one. Lance Stephenson even makes an appearance as himself as one of Derrick’s clients. On the surface, Derrick seems to have it all. He has a great job that is ever expanding, he makes a lot of money, he lives in an expensive house in the hills of Los Angeles, he drives an expensive sports car, and he has a beautiful wife named Tracie (Damaris Lewis). It’s that last bit that is causing him sleepless nights. Derrick and Tracie are having marital problems. Tracie sacrificed while Derrick was building his business, and now Tracie wants Derrick to stop complaining about the long hours and late nights that she is working to build her career as a high-end real estate agent. Derrick wants to spend more time with his wife.

Things take a turn for the worse when Derrick goes to Las Vegas with Rafe. Derrick meets Val Quinlan (Hilary Swank) and the two spend one wild night together. Wracked with guilt Derrick returns home the next day and vows to make his marriage work. Shortly after Derrick returns to L.A. a masked intruder enters their house in the middle of the night. Derrick and the man grapple and Derrick is able to fight him off and force him to flee. Derrick was relieved until the person sent to investigate the crime turns out to be Detective Val Quinlan. Derrick just wants to be left alone, but Val has other plans.

Picture the classic movie “Fatal Attraction,” but make the crazy lady a detective with the LAPD and you’ll get a broad overview of “Fatale.” Derrick has more enemies than just Val, but it’s Val that is his nemesis in the film. While the movie adds nothing particularly new to this type of story, I do give the writer credit for throwing in a few twists that I didn’t see coming.

There’s much more to the story than appears at first or is included in the synopsis above. And the movie does keep your attention. But it was just a few beats away from being really good. The whole time I was watching the movie I kept thinking to myself “This could turn out to be a great movie.” It could have been a classic thriller, but it wasn’t. The filmmakers tried hard, but they just fell short of the mark. It didn’t have that indefinable quality that raises good movies to great ones. “Fatale” does not have the “it” factor.

There were also a few lapses of logic in the movie that I just couldn’t overlook. The police investigation performed by cops other than Val seemed half-hearted. The intruder in their home could have been easily identified, but the cops seemed to ignore pesky things like evidence. Someone can apparently get whacked in the head several times with a golf club and have no injuries the following day. The very last scene of the movie defies logic. These little inconsistencies and mistakes add up. While I do think Hilary Swank is a quality actor, she was miscast for this movie. The role of Val Quinlan required a female who is sexy and alluring, someone who was so intoxicating during one night in Vegas that Derrick couldn’t refuse her. Swank is a lot of good things, but she is not that. I also had a difficult time seeing her as evil, even though she plays the villain here.

Reading back through my review it sounds like I didn’t like “Fatale,” but I did enjoy it. I loved the twists that kept me guessing until the end. It is a dark and serious thriller that turned out to be a good movie, even though it could have been so much better.

Grade: B+ Rated R for violence, sexual content, and language.