I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again; I'm a sucker for mystery thrillers, especially when they involve methodical serial killers. So despite the fact that Twisted was clearly one of the worst reviewed films of the year, I still rented it based on both my preference for the genre and for the film's cast, as I am huge fans of Samuel L. Jackson and Ashley Judd. Andy Garcia, Russell Wong, and Leland Orser are in the film, too, and that's definitely not a shabby supporting cast.
The film stars Judd as San Francisco patrol officer Tess Shepard. After busting a murderer, she's promoted to inspector by the commissioner (Samuel L. Jackson), who also happens to be her legal guardian thanks to a rather sordid past. Tess' new partner is Del Marco (Andy Garcia), and they're quickly assigned to their first case when a corpse is discovered by the shore. The crime is murder but there's a catch; Tess recognizes the dead man, a mere stranger she picked up at a bar a month ago. Another murder occurs, and it's yet another man Tess slept with. And considering she keeps blacking out the night each of the men is killed, she begins to suspect if she's the very own killer they're looking for.
For all that's very wrong with this film, Twisted isn't nearly as bad as I though it'd be. Don't take that as high praise, because the movie's still bad, just not horrible enough that I'd put it on any personal bottom 10 lists.
Because I saw this film just a day after Taking Lives, there was the occasional bit of déjà vu. Remember how I mentioned that film introduced us to the heroine by showing how clever and resourceful she was? Pretty much the same case here, except we also see that Judd's Tess Shepard can kick ass. Her cleverness is displayed through her ability to perfectly describe people and objects she's seen after a brief glance; a fine ability, no doubt, but not something that really impresses in terms of plot and characterization.
The movie's various attempts at building a sense of mystery are suspense are quite pathetic. Examples? Judd keeps hearing a metallic clinking outside her apartment every night before the murders, and she keeps drinking alcohol on those same nights and consequently blacks out. This is a repeated process, so you'd think it take her more than the majority of the film's running time to figure out her drink might be tainted with a drug or that whoever's making that noise might somehow be associated with her blackouts.
Figuring out the identity of the killer is almost too easy. Just follow Roger Ebert's little movie rule about how the culprit is almost always the person who has no other reason to be in the picture and you'll be able to narrow it down real fast.
Twisted is blessed with a surprisingly high-profile cast, and while most everyone is nothing less than decent, it's a bit of a surprise actors of such high-caliber would choose a script that plays out more like 'TV movie of the week' material. I can maybe see the appeal to Ashley Judd in playing a tortured but tough heroine, but Samuel L. Jackson has arguably the film's most thankless role, and he's barely in the picture for more than fifteen minutes. Competent acting is always a great plus in the genre, but it also takes plot and suspense to actually make a thriller with thrills and this movie has absolutely zilch in that department.