[originally posted 13Jul2000]
You knew I couldn't get through a post this long without at least one thoroughly awful review. Welcome to it.
This has a fine premise to it, I must say. A sociopath (Adrien Brody) kidnaps the claustrophobic wife of a millionaire and buries her in a box with about a day's worth of oxygen. A husband-and-wife cop team (Terry Kinney, Maura Tierney) have about that much time to figure out where she's buried.
Brody was the only thing worth watching in Summer of Sam. Tierney does well in almost everything. Same with James Naughton, who plays the millionaire, and Paul Calderon as Tierney's on-again off-again partner.
But this is bad. Bad, bad, bad. Despite wonderful sociopathy by Brody-once again the only decent thing about the flick (that's starting to become a refrain with me)-a number of subplots are started and never finished, no suspense is ever built up, the relationship between Tierney and her onscreen husband is just silly, the cliched battles between the cops and the bottle are trotted out with absolutely nothing new. All in all it's a jumbled, silly, unwatchable mess that should have been left on the cutting room floor. If you've got two hours to kill, spend them with Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead instead. *
Act I ends with kidnapper Brody in a police station sweatbox after his poorly conceived ransom pick-up and a wimpy car-chase down Park Avenue and the roadways orbiting Grand Central Station.
Then it's copper Tierney and Brody playing out their extended interrogation headgame. Tierney, the sexual masochist, and sadistic Brody find each other emotionally and intellectually bonding during her gaming for the location of Brody's buried-alive, time-running-out victim.
Technically speaking, Act III does deliver some plot twists, but lowered expectations regarding such are well advised.
Also, viewers shouldn't expect much in the way of true sexual content out of Tierney, this being made-for-late-night Cinemax stuff. Rather, it's implied through Tierney's cigarette burn-marks, whimpering semi-submissive phone calls and such.
Tierney here delivers a mildly titillating and otherwise uninteresting characterization; Brody's got his toes right up on the edge of the fine-line defining ham.
This could have actually been a more interesting, more enduring product - with stronger dialogue, acting and chase choreography.
RECOMMENDATION: Lifetime coughed this puppy up one summer Saturday afternoon, making it the best basic cable cinema available at the moment; recommended to others only under similar circumstance.
DIRECTED BY: Richard Shepard
SUMMARY: This made-for-cable mystery thriller stars Adrian Brody as an escape artist-kidnapper whose method of torture involves burying his prey alive. When he strikes again, Maura Tierney is the policewoman who must track down Brody within 24 hours before he lets the air out of another one of his victims' hiding places.
MY THOUGHTS; "It is definitely like a nightmare come true, being buried alive... This movie was good.. It's got Adrien Brody, who in my opinion played bad very good.. Didn't really look like he could pull it off to me.. But he ended up proving me wrong.. I say his portrayal of his character is what kept this movie afloat.. There was a bit of over acting from Terry Kinney, or maybe I just didn't like his portrayal of the husband. Just didn't seem to fit. Maura Tierney was good as the dark cop. All in all it wasn't a bad watch to find flipping through the TV today. I am still a bit worried that I thought the part where they found the dog was funny? I don't know, I just found Adrien to be a funny psychopath. Anyways, this movie is worth the watch if you come across it."