The Perfect Witness
started his career with serious promise in 1999's best picture, American
Beauty, but pretty much disappeared from view for most of a decade
since. In 2007 he has resurfaced as the lead in two horror films.
(He also had a supporting role in Nicolas Cage's comic book adaptation of
one out of the gates was P2, in which Bentley played a deranged
parking lot attendant who trapped a female executive in the garage.
That actually got a brief theatrical release and became a very minor hit.
film, on the other hand, is being quickly,
cheaply slipped out straight to video. In fact, it was such an
afterthought that the studio didn't even
bother to remove the movie's original title -- The Ungodly, which
honestly was a more evocative name -- from
the closing credits. (The half-assed approach to the DVD release is
also shown in the fact that I noticed several typos in the English
subtitles, which rarely happens.)
Bentley's first comeback film, but on the evidence of his listless, broad
performance here, I guess we know why he never really followed up his
breakthrough role. Not that Bentley is alone here, most of the
performances are manic and mannered -- which probably has to be blamed on
co-writer/director Thomas C. Dunn.
because The Perfect Witness does have a very interesting premise --
if just a hair too much like the recent Kevin Costner dud Mr. Brooks.
It had the potential to be a very good film, but instead it starts out well
and then quickly degenerates into cliché.
we first see Bentley's character of Mick lurking in the dark of a back
alley, videotaping people that don't know he is there. I don't know if
that is a reference to Bentley's American Beauty character, who also
only experienced life through a video camera lens. In fact, this
character could be that character grown older and even more toxically
Mick is a
self-described "documentary filmmaker" (though the only evidence of this
career we see is one brief clip of an interview with a drug-addicted girl).
He is also a recovering addict -- we see him in an AA meeting and see his
six-month-sober pin -- though he seems to have had a drug problem as well.
project/obsession is a local serial killer. By studying the evidence
he is able to figure out that the killer is James Lemac (played with
over-the-top menace by unknown Mark Borkowski, who also co-wrote
the script) and when and where he will commit his next crime. Perhaps
Mick should forget filmmaking and join the police department.
Mick lurks in that dark alley and videotapes Lemac killing a woman.
The fact that the character is so disconnected that he can watch a murder
taking place without helping is just the first of many character traits that
make it impossible for you to feel any sympathy for Mick when his plot goes
sour on him.
a copy of the video to Lemac and makes him meet him. He makes a
proposal to the killer -- he will not take the tape to the police if Lemac
agrees to be the subject of his film and submit to a series of interviews.
trying to negotiate with serial killers always goes well.
Some of the
early interviews are actually kind of interesting looks into the heart of
darkness. Of course, the deeper that Mick gets into Lemac's world the
darker everything gets. The killer steadily drags him deeper,
threatening Mick's family and friends and eventually tricking the filmmaker
into watching his attacks. Meanwhile, Mick is slowly but surely slipping
back into all of his addictions.
all the complications turn into a been-there/done-that tug of war between
the killer and his nemesis.
it may have been easier to take if the movie was more well-made. The actual
filming is jumbled and muddy. In fact, the movie was filmed
in my hometown of Philadelphia, and yet I barely recognized anyplace on
screen -- though, granted it was mostly filmed in some of the seedier
neighborhoods of the city.
The Perfect Witness turns out to be far from perfect.
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: February 29, 2008.