Perfect Stranger Review

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A woman (Berry) who goes undercover online to investigate a friend’s murder.


It’s been claimed director James Foley shot three endings for this glossy and, he would like you to think, ‘steamy’ thriller, each revealing a different killer. Having seen the finished product, that’s easy to believe. There’s little storytelling craft in evidence and scant regard for the planting of subtle clues. Instead, we trudge down the occasional blind alley, chewing joylessly on a scrap or two of past-its-sell-by-date red herring before we stumble over the point in the script where it says “[insert twist here]”. That said twist is inserted with all the finesse of a square peg bludgeoned hurriedly into a round hole only adds insult to injury.

And when will studio execs learn that the internet never makes good cinema? Even if it’s someone as gorgeous as Halle Berry perched in front of her Vaio (this is a Sony movie), her pensive expression bathed in cold monitor-light blue, her mouth moving as she repeats aloud every word she’s reading and typing… Hang on, who does that? Either Foley realised that having Berry type silently would just be too boring, or he thinks his audience is really so imbecilic that it can’t read the words he clearly shows her inputting. Boring or stupid? What a choice. But somehow this film is both.

Berry does her utmost to maintain poise while treading around the mess. God knows she’s had practice, and she at least imbues Rowena with enough vivacity to maintain a smidgen of interest in her investigation.Even so, you can’t help thinking she’s perhaps hoping that we won’t realise it’s really her. Maybe that explains the woolly grey cap she keeps pulling down over her eyes…

The only headwear Bruce Willis has to rely on is the latest in a long line of dodgy wigs. But the rug is more convincing than Bruce himself, whose weary, weathered features just don’t fit the designer threads of a sleazy, high-flying media exec — not that he tries. Did he phone his performance in? Come on, this is the digital age. Why phone it in when he can use email?

A twist-burdened techno-thriller that would be by-the-numbers if it could count.