Unlawful Entry (1992)
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Though the movie kept my eyes glued to the screen, I could've done without certain plot conventions towards the end. I don't have to spoil it for you. You've seen thrillers in the past, you know what I'm talking about. And the writer could've trimmed the use of lines like "Get the f**k out of here," "Stay the f**k out of my house" and "Stay the f**k away from my wife" or "If you touch her, I'll kill you." I think those lines have popped up in every movie thriller I've seen. But the best reason to see this movie is Liotta's flawless performance. On those grounds alone, this movie is well worth seeing.
My score: 8 (out of 10)
The cast carries this out efficiently while if I had any complaint about the movie it would be Kurt Russell in the smaller role as the husband. I really like Kurt Russell and unfortunately there isn't a lot for him to bite into as the real star of this movie is Ray Liotta. Who I feel bad for lately since he hasn't been able to escape this sort of psycho role, but there's no denying that he's good at it and he is largely what makes Unlawful Entry rank amongst the best of the urban psycho dramas. The story might be predictable in spots, but good performances and great atmosphere go a long way.
It has to be said that the film doesn't offer much in the way of surprises, as the plot is purely formulaic and can be likened to any number of similar films, but somehow the familiarity of the plot gives it something of a relaxed feel, and while experienced movie watchers will feel that they've seen it all before, the film is carried off with enough panache to see it through. Unlawful Entry relies a lot on its actors, and the three at the centre of the story manage to deliver worthwhile performances. Kurt Russell gets toned down in his role as the unlucky husband, while Madeleine Stowe doesn't get to do any heavyweight acting, but at least looks nice. The pair doesn't really have any chemistry together, which is a shame and brings the piece down - but this is offset by a conniving Ray Liotta, who manages to get under the skin despite looking a bit like David Hasselhoff. The film is always interested, but never really intriguing; although the plot does work well and the ending is fitting in context. Overall, this is not great or a must see film; but its decent enough and I don't regret watching it.
Jonathan Kaplan's considered style of direction is effective in creating an unsettling atmosphere and also a considerable amount of tension. Imaginative camera angles are used and the pace of the action is perfectly suited to the nature of the story and the timing of the various plot developments.
Michael Carr (Kurt Russell) and his wife Karen (Madeleine Stowe) suffer a frightening ordeal when a burglar breaks into their home and holds a knife to Karen's throat. The burglar then throws Karen into the swimming pool and leaves swiftly without taking any of their possessions.
One of the LAPD officers who come to check out the crime scene is Pete Davis (Ray Liotta) who reassures the couple by arranging for a sophisticated security system to be installed with the minimum of delay. Michael tells Pete that he'd like to take his revenge on the burglar and Pete responds by inviting Michael to go on a "ride along" one night with him and his partner so that he can see the type of work that they do. After Pete's partner finishes his shift, Pete takes Michael to a location where they encounter the man who'd broken into Michael's home. Pete offers Michael his nightstick and the chance to take his revenge but Michael passes up the offer. Pete then beats up the burglar in a particularly brutal attack.
Michael becomes extremely concerned about Pete's behaviour and tries to take steps to see less of him in future. Unfortunately, Pete responds by becoming more and more obsessed with Karen and increasingly menacing towards Michael. This makes the couple's lives progressively more dangerous and intolerable until a point is reached where Michael decides that the only way to reach a satisfactory resolution is by dealing with the problem head on.
"Unlawful Entry" achieves a far greater impact than would normally be possible with this type of material because of the quality of the performances by Liotta, Russell and Stowe. Liotta is incredibly good as the scary stalker whose mental state is particularly brittle. Impressively, he's equally convincing when he's being manipulative and scheming as when he's being threatening and crazy. Ray Liotta is just a marvellous actor and this must be one of his best ever roles.
The success and the affluence which Michael had enjoyed in his life didn't prepare him for the overwhelming sense of powerlessness which he came to experience when his wife was being threatened and then later when he found there was nothing he could do to prevent Pete from seriously damaging his personal and business life. The way in which Kurt Russell conveys the desperation and frustration of a man who is trapped in a nightmare from which there seems to be no escape is both admirable and praiseworthy. Madeleine Stowe also gives an accomplished performance as the vulnerable and anxious Karen whose academic abilities serve her well professionally but who also proves to be rather naive and not very perceptive in her personal life.
This movie is a great example of how the combination of a straightforward story which people can relate to and proficient acting and directing can produce a great box office success.
Liotta's given solid support from Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe as the unwitting couple who find themselves caught up in a nightmare. This is the archetypal 'slow burner' of a plot, with everyday events and subtle hints and clues gradually building from an impressive climax, which makes use of plenty of clichés but nevertheless ticks all the right boxes. UNLAWFUL ENTRY is one of those thrillers that doesn't disappoint, and unlike PACIFIC HEIGHTS it isn't spoilt with dated attempts at style. Thumbs up.
In all honesty, I didn't have high hopes for it, but in actual fact, it was hugely entertaining. It was never going to be an Oscar winner, but it was clever, original and the acting was good too. The film has a nice pace to it and the story flows reasonably well in that the film is neither too long nor too short. I perhaps wouldn't call it a classic but it is certainly a good film, and a little known and under-appreciated one at that. Kurt Russel, as usual does a good turn and the best part of the film is that you truly connect with how Russel's character feels. It's the sort of film that'll have you on edge and almost screaming at the TV. Watch and enjoy!
But the cure is far worse than the disease when Officers Ray Liotta and Roger E. Mosley respond to the scene. Liotta gradually insinuates himself in their lives because he thinks that Stowe is sending up signals that she wants him. This of course sets up the conflict between Liotta and Russell for the rest of the film. With Liotta having a badge and gun, he's at a decided advantage to say the least.
The film does belong to Liotta who seems like a normal middle class guy who went into law enforcement at first. It's a subtle piece of acting on Liotta's part as we see his true nature gradually revealed. The man does have issues which are revealed in his encounter with working girl Rosa Salazar and later as he commits some Unlawful Entry and watches Russell and Stowe getting it on. Of course since he's a cop it can't be Unlawful Entry.
Ken Lerner has a nice part in this film as Russell's lawyer, the kind you make jokes about, but also the kind it's good to have on your side when you're in trouble.
Unlawful Entry is a good, if a tad unrealistic film. One thing I will say though at the end it's absolutely anyone's guess as to what will happen with the survivors.
Russel plays Michael Carr, an incessantly naive guy who calls on the help of a pair of officers when someone breaks into his house and tries to attack his wife (Madeline Stowe). Unfortunately, he quietly vents his anger about feeling so helpless in the situation to the wrong cop (Ray Liotta), a typically psychopathic villain with no limits for his power. At first empathizing with Carr (probably only pretending to do so), the cop befriends the couple. But soon enough, the cops wants Carr out of the way so, destroying the guys life nearly any way he can (which is pretty easy when you're a cop, and when you're the cop who has installed the guy's security system in his house) in order to take over and presumably, get his wife. It seems less ends-oriented, and more like the cop just wants to prove his power. The wife is more like a trophy, in other words, than an end. And the story plays out entirely by the book, you can probably predict every occurrence before it happens on the screen if you've seen enough of these movies. From the "shocking" moment our main, naive character realizes he is a victim of credit card fraud (perpetrated by the psychopathic villain) to the turn-around-he's-not-really-dead finale.
It would be nice to see Kurt Russell, Madeline Stowe and Ray Liotta team up again in similar roles but with a different plot.Great acting indeed from the cast members.
No, this movie doesn't has the most likely story in it and some of the developments aren't all that convincing but the movie is simply being good and enjoyable for what it is. As a thriller it does serve its purpose well and probably won't disappoint anybody that is looking for a good thriller.
In its simplicity and setup, this is being a quite effective thriller, in which a cop starts terrorizing a family, when he falls for the wife. Things are slowly starting to get worse and more troublesome for the family. The way the entire movie gets buildup ensures that the tension of the movie works out effectively. It's basically being one of those stalker movies, a lot got made of, during the '80's and '90's. This happens to be one of the lesser known ones but it most certainly is not among the worst ones as well. You could even say that this is being a bit of an underrated and under-appreciated movie.
This movie also made me realize what a shame and waste it was that Ray Liotta's career never truly reached great heights. There was a period, around the time of this movie, that he truly was an A-list actor but he never really managed to maintain this status and there are too few classics, starring him, to consider his career to be a truly successful one. There was far more in it really. It's not like he has stopped acting but it's hard to imaging his career is still going to take off now. He was an absolutely great and charismatic presence and villain in this movie and almost completely stole the show away from other fine actors such as Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe.
This really is being a good, straightforward, old fashioned thriller, that is definitely worth a watch.
Released the same year as spate of 1992 thrillers including Single White Female, Basic Instinct, Traces of Red, Consenting Adults and Final Analysis name a few Unlawful Entry is a tighter than the aforementioned. It's easy to knock a film in retrospect, as it's been done so many times since but at the time while not totally original it encompassed the best of the genre. Jonathan Kaplan delivers a very entertaining obsession flick and while borrowing elements from Pacific Heights (1990),Cape Fear (1991) & (1962) Lewis Colick's screenplay plays out interesting character developments and arcs especially as Kurt Russell's Michael Carr unravels and Ray Liotta's Pete Davis unveils.
Liotta is perfect as Davis an unbalanced police officer and Russell hams it up, debatably a little too much, as the aggravated husband. There's an overlooked supporting cast, including Ken Lerner and Madeleine Stowe in her heyday. James Horner's score is strong and of its time and it all adds up to an engaging thriller that would later be emulated in Lakeview Terrace (2008) and The Fan (1996).
Worth viewing if only for the underrated Liotta in one of his better roles.
In UNLAWFUL ENTRY, Liotta is unbalanced cop, Officer Pete Davis, who terrorizes a break-in victim, Michael Carr (Kurt Russell), for a piece of Michael's wife, Karen (Madeline Stowe, who is just asking for it by being Madeline Stowe).
So he's creepier than ever, with that overly-sincere delivery and those x-ray eyes. (Yet every time he calls Madeline Stowe, "Karen," I flash back to Lorraine Bracco in GOODFELLAS.) Officer Pete keeps inserting himself into Michael and Karen's life, first as a friend helping them install a better security system, then turning up like a rash, i.e. whenever Michael is trying to close a deal (business-wise and panty-wise).
By the time Pete has falsely jailed Michael and is insanely cooking dinner for Karen as if he is her husband, it is obvious he has turned into creepy Ray Liotta, so Kurt Russell must turn into Snake Plissken to off him.
--Review by Poffy The Cucumber (for Poffy's Movie Mania).
Unlike the young mafioso he played in Good Fellas, where his conscience gets in the way all the time, Liotta shows a rather dark and unstable himself in Unlawful Entry, willing to go any distance to "win" Russell's wife. Although some may say that a better photography job could have been done, the director concentrated himself on the main subject (Liotta), his face, his voice, his movements, his (I dare to say) needy behavior.
A rather similar ending to Internal Affair, 1990, starring Richard Gere and Andy Garcia, where the bad cop dies at the end, although Gere's interest was not the attractive colleague's wife. Another intriguing and sickening L.A. story..sick city of angels.
What makes this movie great is that it has 2 actors who are very good at portraying emotional characters. Russell and Liotta are rivaled by none in depicting characters of struggle, grit,intensity and emotion. The films script and directing by it's producer Jonathan Kaplan is perfect.
Without a doubt there is something about Liotta's eyes, when he speaks, they have emotion written all over them. After watching this movie you feel that even though Liotta's character of Officer Pete Davis was initially a functioning member of society, without a doubt this guy has some serious issues and probably isn't working with a full deck. The scene where he has sex in his police cruiser with the female he earlier stopped for a ticket is almost astonishing and very eerie. This is an indication of this films mood and tone.
Russell meanwhile excellently plays his role as a husband who is struggling dealing with a policeman who; going with his instincts, is a little "off". Madeleine Stowe comes off perfect as his sexy and sultry wife who innocently is unsuspecting in realizing officer Davis's true intentions.
Without a doubt Unlawful Entry is about Michael Carr(Russell)VS Pete Davis. They square off in various ways culminating with a memorable physical confrontation at the end. One scene of note is when Officer Davis responds to the Carrs home on a hoaxed security system call. Officer Davis walks into the couples bedroom holding a flashlight during a lovemaking session and Russell fires off to him "Get the bleep outta my house!!". Later he warns his wife that "this guy is sick and he's after you". Incredibly at the onset Madeleine (Mrs Carr) doesn't believe so.
If you like a fast moving suspenseful thriller then Unlawful Entry has a lot in store for you. Director Jonathan Kaplan treated me to a classic with this score. One of Kurt Russell and Ray Liotta's best films, and neither one are shabby actors. In fact both are 2 of my favorites because they have a way of bringing to life the characters they play. Check this film out.
a) When the cops raid Kurt's house for drugs, the way they break everything: not believable, you can't go into someone's home and start breaking glass and vases looking for stuff.
b) The car chase before Ray shoots his partner and the drug dealer. Driving through fences speeding through alleys. Could have been thought out better.
c) The ending was a little crazy. Not believable. I would have given the film 10/10 if not for the above items.
Certainly UNLAWFUL ENTRY is one of the more entertaining movies in its field and it's probably down to the cast . Kurt Russell who unfortunately seems to have disappeared from successful films over the last few years was always good at playing good guy everyman and here plays architect Michael Carr . Madeleine Stowe is someone else who seems to have disappeared from the radar recently plays his wife Karen and they both make a likable and believable on screen couple with Karen being the object of lust of sociopathic cop Pete Davis played by Ray Liotta . Okay I doubt if any of the cast were expecting Oscar nominations but the on screen chemistry makes UNLAWFUL ENTRY a very watchable film
There are some problems . Liotta is good enough when Davis is just an ordinary cop but when he acts all mean , nasty and obsessive he does tend to go over the top and unlike his two co-stars you can't really scratch your head wondering why Liotta now appears in obscure straight to video/DVD movies . Likewise the screenplay does became more and more unbelievable in the second half but that's always the problem with these type of movies . Not to be too negative it's still a watchable piece of entertainment
you never knew what to expect next.. it was so scary how Ray's character made his way into Kurt and Madelines' characters lives.. and how they both came to trust Ray's character..and they pay dearly for it.
I highly recommend this movie.. its worth an 11 its that good..