An American diplomat and his fiancée venture into the sordid underworld of sex and pornography in Budapest, Hungary to find out who is blackmailing them with a porno video taken of them with a prostitute.
Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.
Parisian murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans is called to Gueron, a self-sufficient, prestigious university in a mountain valley, to investigate the murder on 32-year old professor... See full summary »
To foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a face-transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a ruthless terrorist, but the plan backfires when the same criminal impersonates the cop with the same method.
Private investigator Tom Welles is hired by the recently widowed Mrs. Christian who has found a startling pornographic film in her late husband's possessions. In the film a teenage girl is apparently killed and Welles is pretty sure it's a genuine snuff film. He takes the case, first going through records of runaways finally identifying the girl and learning that she may have run off to California. There he enters the seedy underworld of pornography with the help of Max California, a porn store clerk. His principal clue is the masked man who killed the girl as he has a unique tattoo on his hand. He soon finds the culprits but there is little satisfaction in resolving the mystery. Written by
Admittedly, I haven't seen a lot, if any, of the movies or read the books other people have said have covered this territory already, but I found myself caught up in the story and not bored or thinking, "Ho-hum." I haven't liked Joel Schumacher lately(his two BATMAN movies were a joke, and A TIME TO KILL was exploitation at its worst), but this one was pretty good. Admittedly, like in A TIME TO KILL, this sometimes comes close to an exploitation movie(particularly through the performances of James Gandolfini and Peter Stormare), but that's only part of the time. Most of the time you feel sadness and outrage, and like in Schumacher's very good FALLING DOWN, you aren't asked to condone Cage's actions near the end, you're just asked to understand them.
This might not be the type of part Cage is known for, but I found him compelling in the role(and if something upsets the man who ate a cockroach on film, you KNOW it's heavy-duty stuff). I do admit the film would have been a little unrelenting without the presence of Joaquin Phoenix, though; he was like a breath of fresh air, and I liked how matter-of-fact he was. I can't say I enjoyed this movie, but I'm not sorry I saw it.
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