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Edward James Olmos,
Detective Sergeant Malcolm Ainslie, a Catholic priest turned distinguished investigator for the police, has agreed to hear the confession of a convicted serial killer sentenced to death in a just a matter of hours. What he promises to reveal to Ainslie is the truth behind the crimes and the reason he confessed to the one crime Ainslie doesn't even believe he committed. What unfolds between the two men is a serpentine trail into both men's pasts based on the bestseller from master storyteller Arthur Hailey. Written by
This movie took a pretty massive book and condensed it somewhat into about three hours of screen time. Condensing I get, but there are other problems: (1) The original book had a fairly straightforward set of flashbacks that really built the suspense for me. This made-for-TV movie rendered the entire plot as a sequential time line, dashing key elements of the original story's suspense. TV viewers can't handle flashbacks? Come on, give me a break! (2) In the movie, Cynthia Ernst, fellow detective of the title role, had not an ounce of the charisma, go-for-the-jugular dynamism and downright sex appeal of the book's character. Worse, she may as well have been dressed in a sweatshirt and stretch pants for most of the movie. Bad choice of actress, too? Maybe. (3) The sexual tension between the movie's Ernst character and Detective-Sergeant Ainslie, a major source of the suspense in the book, was all but undetectable in the movie. Put it down to a lack of chemistry between Tom Berenger and Annabeth Gish, I guess. (Not as bad as Bird On A Wire, but I'm just saying...) (4) The potential for suspense that should attend the discovery of a major public figure's involvement in a major crime, plus the tension of obtaining the final proof, was 99% wasted. That was how the book made my pulse pound! (5) The motivation for the major public figure's crime was revealed in the book, but not in the movie. Another opportunity wasted. ... On balance, Detective-Sergeant Ainslie's wife Karen was played by Cybill Shepherd, and I love watching her do anything.... :)
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