Oscar winner Hilary Swank adds “femme fatale” to her resume with “Fatale,” a torpid, twisty thriller in the “Fatal Attraction” mold.
But watching Swank play sexually aggressive, chemically off and ruthlessly violent can’t help but remind the savvy viewer how much better Glenn Close, Sharon Stone, Kerry Washington and others were as sexually assertive women with a hint of predator about them.
Michael Ealy is the successful sports agent whose marriage to a high flying LA realtor (Damaris Lewis) has seen better days. Workaholics, we figure. She’s lost interest or has somebody else on the side is his guess.
A weekend in Vegas, partying and networking with the NBA puts him in the path of Val (Swank). He sees her brush off one come-on. His biz partner (Mike Colter) has yanked his ring off for the night, so she sees him as someone not unlike herself — “an unaccompanied adult.”
A little liquor, a little dance, a little get-this-guy-out-of-his-pants.
But whatever regrets he may have as he tries to slip out the door in the AM, she’s not hearing them. She’s locked his phone in the room safe.
“I’m not done with you.” Oh, if Derrick only knew.
Back home, a “date night” of guilt cooking and getting “reacquainted” with wife Traci ends with a break-in. And who shows up to their swank LA McMansion to investigate but Det. Val. Let the suspicions, cover-up and turn towards a famous Hitchcock thriller’s plot commence.
Ealy’s played both sides of the predator/prey sex thriller formula, and still so underplays everything that you wonder if he’s got any setting other than “simmer.” He was better as “The Perfect Guy.”
Swank’s more comfortable playing cold and cunning — not prone to panic — than at anything else Val is supposed to bring to the table. Damaged, desperate, sexy without warmth all feel shortchanged in her flat performance.
The David Loughery script — he wrote Ealy’s “The Intruder” — wins points for attempted twists, but frankly they don’t build suspense or deliver shocks, so what’s the point?
The most interesting element to “Fatale” is its portrayal of that widely-held view of cops — that their real expertise is in knowing what they can get away with. But that’s not enough to put it over.
MPA Rating: R, violence, sex
Cast: Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy, Mike Colter and Damaris Lewis. Credits: Directed by Deon Taylor, script by David Loughery. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:43