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1 review, 1 rating

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Jagged Edge
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Who-Cares Whodunit"
2 stars

While this certainly did great box-office, like "Fatal Atraction" it gets dumber and dumber as it goes along.

I can't say that the psychological thriller Jagged Edge is ever boring anywhere in its entirety, but it's far from intelligent stuff and hampered by a faulty screenplay possessive of many logic loopholes that seriously mar its credibility. The set-up, though, is perfectly fine: that of Jeff Bridges accused of savagely murdering his powerful, newspaper-magnate wife and maid in their home for the wife's fortune with him the sole beneficiary. At the crime scene, Bridges, who claims he walked in on the killer, is found unconscious from a blow to the head; however, San Francisco DA Peter Coyote is convinced the blow was self-inflicted and Bridges committed the crime with the oldest motivation in the book -- greed. After a health-club janitor reports on once seeing a jagged-edged knife in Bridges's locker that's the exact type as the murder weapon, Bridges is arrested; and defending him is Glenn Close, who works for Bridges's corporate attorneys and was once a prosecutor under Coyote with a one-hundred-percent conviction rate -- though she's reluctant to take on the case after having once gone along with Coyote on a high-profile case where the both of them ignored a piece of evidence that would have exonerated the defendant. After learning said defendant has hung himself in prison, she's provided with the motivation to take on Bridges's case; but after a remarkably short time, she believes in Bridges's innocence, falls for him and becomes his lover. As is usual with a Joe Eszterhas script (he also wrote Basic Instinct and Showgirls), the structure is solid but the dialogue poor and character motivations shaky. In a courtroom tale, in addition to plot twists we also crave some semblances of intelligence and organic clarity, but the way Eszterhas has laid out things here, most of the components are standard-fare simplistic and schematic, so we feel pulled along less by ingenuity and more by overly-mechanical means. Red herrings abound that are easy to spot and deduce as extraneous, for since they're introduced too early on we know they can't be true otherwise the film would be over by the halfway mark. The Close character is a model of a double-standard in that she's supposed to be smart yet careless enough to sleep with a client suspected of a grisly first-degree murder. We're told Bridges's marriage was on the rocks yet his wife bafflingly left everything to him rather than her on-good-terms brother. A crucial piece of evidence is flimsily kept in the house. And it all culminates in a grand finale where two characters do incredibly stupid things for the sole sake of trying to jack-up the audience. Perhaps a director with some panache could help glide over these inconsistencies, but Richard Marquand, who helmed the fine Eye of the Needle and slightly-underrated Return of the Jedi, shoots in too straightforward and uninspired a manner for such a problematic script, with only Oscar-winning composer John Barry's super-eerie score pleasurably working us over. The acting, granted, is beyond reproach, especially Coyote's -- his is the very definition of the unbeatable combination of imagination plus technique. But on the whole everything's jerry-built so what's ultimately elicited are dull pings of suspense rather than genuine hair-raising moments. When you get right down to it, Eszterhas's script, rather than that incriminating piece of evidence, should have been kept in the closet.

Hey, if you like John Barry's terrific score, then give "Murder by Phone" a look-see. The man is a genius of creepy scores.

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originally posted: 05/29/09 05:05:07
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User Comments

1/14/09 CTT The more you think about it, the sillier it is 3 stars
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