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The latest from director James Foley ("Glengarry Glen Ross"), "Perfect Stranger" is a tepid thriller starring Halle Berry as Rowena, an investigative reporter who thinks she has the scoop of the century on a senator who has been fooling around with an intern. However, when the powers that be decided to put the brakes on publishing the story, Rowena throws a meltdown and walks out on the job.

Shortly after she stormed out, Rowena is confronted by her friend Grace, who talks to her about an affair she had with a very wealthy and powerful (and married) ad exec named Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis). Rowena hesitates to investigate, but when Grace turns up dead, she takes the case, using techie pal Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) to help her get a temp job at Harrison's ad agency. She soon gets the attention of Harrison and starts chatting online with "ADEX", who she believes is Harrison. Rowena is also seeing Cameron (Gary Dourdan), which makes Miles jealous.

The movie has Rowena trying to investigate Harrison, but the thriller can't generate much in the way of thrills thanks to a below average performance from Berry, whose performance is wooden and whose character remains almost aggressively unlikable. This isn't much better than Berry's infamous "Catwoman" effort, and her lackluster performance here is supposed to carry the movie. Willis, on the other hand, wanders through the movie, looking sullen and maybe a little bored - clearly on hand to pick up a paycheck. Willis and Berry don't generate any sparks on-screen, either, showing little chemistry. Ribisi is the only one to create a character that's not one-dimensional.

"Stranger" offers little suspense, as we don't care about the lead character and Foley's attempts to stage her spying are bland and dull - there's definitely no nailbiters here. What's worse are the film's clumsy attempts to try and shift the blame to a few different suspects and by the time the film finally arrives as its ridiculous ending, one may feel as if the filmmakers had been completely making it up as they went along through the second half of the film. Even the film's techy moments (IMing, etc.) seem weak, as even "Disclosure" did it better, and that was over a decade ago.

The film certainly has some elements in place to create an enjoyable techy thriller, but director James Foley is completely lost trying to make something out of Todd Komarnicki's cliched, contrived script.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Perfect Stranger" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is just fine - no one will confuse it with a demo-quality presentation, but flaws are relatively minor. Sharpness and detail are respectable, as the image looked crisp and clean, but small object detail was not quite as visible and clear as one would like. Some slight edge enhancement and a few traces of artifacting were spotted, but the majority of the film looked clean. Colors remained dark and rich, with nice saturation and no smearing.

SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack isn't given much of a workout by the film, which is generally quite dialogue-driven in nature. Surrounds offer some minimal support, but the majority of the audio is up-front. Audio quality is fine, with crisp, natural-sounding dialogue.

EXTRAS: "Making of" documentary.

Final Thoughts: "Perfect Stranger" remains a chilly, slow thriller thanks to a subpar performance from Berry and a script that can't handle its twists well. The DVD offers very good audio/video quality, but next-to-no extras. Skip it.





Film Grade
The Film C-
DVD Grades
Video 89/B+
Audio: 87/B
Extras: 70/C-


DVD Information





Perfect Stranger
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
2.40:1
Dolby Digital 5.1
109 minutes
Subtitles: English
Rated R
Dual Layer:Yes
Anamorphic:Yes
Region:1
Available At Amazon.com: Perfect Stranger DVD