Fatale Movie Review - Criminal Minds

In Deon Taylor's film, a fling returns to haunt a man after a break-in. 

Fatale opens with one of those dated establishing shots of skyscrapers kissing the sky. As the camera zooms in, we get closer to the voice behind the voice-over elucidating on being smart and about some game. The source is revealed to be Derrick Tyler (Michael Ealy), who we come to know has built a successful talent agency. He is driving, and before we reach the destination, the title springs on the screen. It is from the scene after the title where Fatale begins. Fatale ends with an identical shot of Derrick driving on the road. These two shots are superfluous, doing nothing but summing up the information you will get from the entire film.

Nevertheless, let's focus on things in between. Derrick is married to Tracie (Damaris Lewis), a real estate agent. From their first toast together with friends Rafe Grimes (Mike Colter) and his wife, we sense this marriage to be sailing through rough waters. Indeed, it is falling apart. When Tracie says she will be home late at night, Derrick deduces it as an affair. He has no proof, only suspicion. With these thoughts playing on his mind, Derrick reaches Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Rafe encourages him to vent out his frustrations by initiating a fling. Some best friend he is. Derrick notices Valerie Quinlan (Hilary Swank) and does what Rafe suggested doing some minutes ago. 

When they wake up in the morning, Valerie seductively reveals that Derrick's phone is locked in a safe, and the only way to get the combination is to sleep with her again. This is one of the many moments which construct Valerie's psychology. Writer David Loughery fills her with horror movie archetypes, turning Valerie into many uncanny things at once. She becomes a creepy stalker when breaking into her daughter's home at night (her husband has put a restraining order and lives with another woman along with the daughter). She becomes an obsessive-woman-who-won't-leave-you-after-sex when she sits on the side of the bed where Tracie sleeps and touches the blanket. Valerie shifts to femme fatale when seducing a man into committing a crime. In one scene, she is filmed like a spirit on a mirror in the foreground. Last but not least, she even gets to unleash Michael Myers. All this means that Valerie is not a character but a concept. Fatale mechanically utilizes the different aspects in service of the screenplay to jump from one point to another. I wish she had been solidly grounded with one nefarious quality and then let it prompt other sinister activities in a way that is more earned than being perfunctory. Hilary Swank is capable of the task. She delivers on every beat. At one point, Derrick says she is enjoying seeing him sweat, and we see this enjoyment on her face. 

There is nothing wrong with making a straightforward romantic/stalker thriller. But for some reason, Fatale tries to touch on black commentary. Lines like, "he hates cops just as much as I do, especially ones that frame innocent black men," and "You mean to tell me an innocent black man got let off?" stick out like a sore thumb. Way more jarring is the insertion of hip hop music in the background, which is very distracting. It's frustrating to still see films accompanying lazy dream sequences for shock value. They have no merit and are shoehorned for padding the runtime or delivering lame jump scares. Fatale also features one of those clichés where a person refuses to listen to another's story, resulting in a fatality. There is some fun in watching the unfolding of Valerie's twisted game, but it needed better bits and the thrill of a cat-and-mouse ploy. Sure, an affair is bad. What's also bad is a substandard movie.   

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from Movie Reviews https://moviesinmydna.blogspot.com/2021/01/fatale-movie-review-criminal-minds.html
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