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Deborah Kara Unger
Rick Cowan's "Shadow of Fear" showed up on cable recently. The only thing that attracted us to watch it was the presence of James Spader, Peter Coyote and Aidan Quinn, perhaps the best known actors in the cast. This film written by Matthew Hollaway and Arthur Marcum, will test even the most patient viewer's patience! First of all, the screen play is vague in explaining what we are watching.
The opening sequence shows us Harrison sitting near the table where his father-in-law and his cronies, presided by the creepy William Ashbury are discussing things that probably Harrison can hear, yet, he is not invited to participate in the discussion. He is given a drink, but when he goes to pay, the waiter shows him that it's already been paid by Ashbury. He then goes home on a rain storm. The moment he gets distracted, he hits the man standing in the middle of the road. What to do? Call the police? No, instead Harrison disposes the body not too far from the road, a move that will carry terrible consequences for this young man.
This being said, sounds like the premise of a good mystery film, but instead, the writers have complicated the story in such a way, that at times, one wonders with incredulity all the twists and turns in a plot that doesn't ultimately prove anything at all. By not making clear the activities of the group, we start losing interest in the film, and nothing that is done later on to explain why everything happened makes sense.
James Spader doesn't add anything to his otherwise excellent career in the movies. Ditto for Peter Coyote, Aidan Quinn, and the rest of the cast. Matthew Davis who is at the center of the story appears to be miscast for the role of Harrison. Perhaps with a stronger lead could have made more sense.
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