Cons:some bad acting, a lot of mistimed revelations
The Bottom Line: The movie gets points for the idea, but loses them all for a terrible execution and even worse acting.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
There are a lot of actors in the industry who could step into the roll of a chess champion and pull it off quite well. Christopher Lambert is not one of those actors. He has had a few good action films that have shown off his skills at fighting, and I really liked him in Mortal Kombat. But again, this is like watching Steven Seagal play the part. You just don't write up the actor as someone who could be a chess grandmaster, and starting the movie off not believing the job of the main character is not a good sign at all. Simply telling you what he does in the movie has probably caused some people to write this one off. But hold off, I am not done saying bad things about this movie just yet! The only real bonus to spending time with this film was getting to see a young Diane Lane, but she isn't going to save this movie from my review either.
Now before I move on, I should note that there were aspects of this film which could have made it really good. It had a dark feeling to it, and it uses a lot of subtle "moves" to formulate the story that the actors are going to play out. Using chess as a back-drop, we get to see a sort-of chess match played out between the killer and Lambert's character. The thing to also notice, is that there are a lot of elements later used in Se7en, which are tried out here, but not really brought to us in a great fashion. The film uses darkness to its advantage, and at the same time really goes for a shock factor when it comes to the killings that start taking place. The best part of the film is probably the opening black and white flashback that gives us a little insight into the history of the main character; Peter Sanderson (Lambert).
So, lets take a look at the real plot of the film. While the chess tournament is taking place, a series of murders are occurring outside. The victims are only linked by being beautiful women, and it seems that the killer is quite violent. With his murders, he leaves behind clues as to his identity, daring anyone to figure out just who he is. Right away the police suspect Sanderson as the killer, and bring him in for questioning. It is left up to the audience to decide if they believe their eyes, and if they can truly rule him out as the killer, but a lot of evidence starts pointing in his direction. Tom Skerritt and Daniel Baldwin play the roles of the cops, but just as I didn't like Lambert in his role, it felt like these two were really phoning it in. I don't know if it was late nights of shooting or what, but their energy seemed to be lacking.
Eye candy is brought out in the form of a psychologist played by Diane Lane. She is pretty good in her part, but when you are giving good lines, and receiving nothing back, it can only do so much for a film. The only drama you will find is trying to figure out who the killer is, and whether you believe Lambert's thoughts and actions. So we have a dark setting for a film filled with violence, and we have a set of actors who only really seemed to care about getting done with the film and moving on to their next projects. I think that some people will find the premise of the film interesting enough to look past the bad acting and editing, but in this case I was not able to. I can only think of what this story could have been with better actors, and one less Christopher Lambert. Decent to watch if you don't have anything better to do, this isn't one that I recommend buying for you own personal collection. It gets 2 out of 5 stars from me.
Viewing Format: VHS