For some reason, I'd hoped that Perfect Stranger would be better than the previews made it look. Unfortunately, the previews were as bad as they were because there are no quality scenes to draw from. The plot is this: When her friend Grace is mysteriously murdered, investigative reporter Rowena (Halle Berry) suspects that advertising mogul Harrison Hill may be involved, so she goes undercover as a temp at Hill's agency to gain information.
Hill, suspicious that his employees are "spies" from a competing agency, doesn't make it easy for Rowena to gather any dirt. Miles (Giovanni Rivisi), Rowena's underling at the newspaper, helps her with the investigation while nursing a most creepball crush on Rowena. As Rowena delves deeper into Hill's life, she discovers that everyone — including Miles and ultimately herself — has dirty little secrets.
The movie is supposed to be a thriller, but fails miserably at creating any sort of interesting suspense, largely because at no time is it clear why we are supposed to care about, well, anyone in the film. My thoughts on this movie would best be expressed in a list of absurdities, so
- This film had all the potential of being like "Alias," with a cool lady spy getting stuff done. There's even a vaguely feminist moment, when Rowena writes a story exposing a politician, but the article is killed because, as she angrily puts it, the world is just "powerful men protecting powerful men." Yet in the end, her valid gripes are dismissed as the ramblings of a woman off her rocker.
- In a story that is rather dependent upon the usage of technology (Rowena communicates with Hill via instant messenger in many, many scenes), one might think that the technology would at least be up-to-date. But no. Remember that part in Pretty in Pink when Andrew McCarthy's character sends Molly Ringwald's character a kind of IM on the library computer systems? The technology featured in Perfect Stranger is maybe one step up from that. Maybe.
- Even if I didn't have a fair amount of knowledge about the advertising world, I would suspect that the story line about "spies" from a competing agency reporting back to the competitors about Hill's plans to "steal" clients is silly. It reminds me of little kids making up the rules of a game, with no basis in reality.
- Hill is a high-powered executive with a lot to lose, yet he conveniently and carelessly forgets to close the curtains of his hotel room, which is low enough to the street to gaze into.
- I'm sorry, but who in Manhattan keeps their door key in an obvious "hiding" place (on top of the door jamb! under a mat!) outside their door? In this movie, both Miles and Rowena do.
- Bruce Willis and Halle Berry are good actors but are helpless to fix the outrageously lacking script. It seems that at some point they decided to put on brave faces and just get through it.
Bottom line: With so many thrillers out right now, do not waste your time on this one.
Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures