Unlawful Entry

Dir: Jonathan Kaplan
Star: Ray Liotta, Kurt Russell, Madeline Stowe, Roger E. Mosley

After a break-in, developer Michael Carr (Russell) and his wife Karen (Stowe) find friendly neighbourhood cop Peter (Liotta) becoming a little too friendly. At first, it's the little things, such as inviting himself to their parties; then he turns up when they're having sex; finally, he decides he should move in, and replace Michael. Throughout, Peter engages in a systematic destruction of Michael's business, reputation and life, climaxing with planting half a pound of coke in the house and then calling in the drug squad. How exactly a beat cop gets half a pound of coke is never explained, any more than how he is apparently able to wreck Michael's credit rating (especially in the days before the Internet).

Such inconsistencies weaken the plot, and the story is familiar too, Fatal Attraction being the best-known entry in the genre. The performances help, in particular Liotta's decent turn as the cop with two distinct faces, most clearly visible during a lecture at Karen's school, where he says he became a cop to help people. His subsequent actions - not least those involving his partner (Mosley) - would suggest otherwise. It all ends exactly as you'd expect, Kaplan rolling out the cliches without any invention, right down to the "he's not really dead!" finale, but courtesy of Liotta, the time passes painlessly enough.

Feb 2004

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