The profession of acting is very much like the profession of exotic dancing. For one, in order to make a fair amount of money, you have to work hard and work your way up the ladder (or pole.) Additionally, you have to take the good gigs with the bad and everything in between. Halle Berry’s career as an actress is a perfect example of the latter. For every Monster’s Ball, there has been a Catwoman, and there have been plenty of those “in between” gigs that pay the bills. And while some of us are publicly waiting for another Monster’s Ball and secretly yearning for another Catwoman, we do get to watch her strut her stuff in Perfect Stranger, easily one of those in-betweeners.
In Perfect Stranger Berry plays Rowena, an intrepid reporter who writes under a fake name for a real tabloid so that she can go after powerful men who do devious things. From outing a boy scout piddling senator to exposing general corruption, nothing is off limits. That is, until one of her childhood friends (played briefly by Nicki Aycox) is found dead after a torrid affair with a very rich and powerful marketing executive (Bruce Willis). With her nerdy perve with a dark side assistant Miles (Giovanni Ribisi) in tow, Row goes barreling into a situation that is deeper than it initially appears and has to dig her way out before her determination finally catches up to her.
It is your standard, early year formulaic thriller. Brace yourself, as it will not be the last one before the summer movie season. It centers around the powerful woman going after the evil, and sometimes very comical, slime ball man. Bruce Willis, continuing his trend of dickish bit parts (see Grindhouse and/or Fast Food Nation), is believable enough as a lying, cheating, power hungry guy just looking for an open hole, but he does over do it a bit. The same can be said for Giovanni Ribisi, whose character with a dark side turns into one giant internet nerd turned sociopath cliche. He is good enough as Miles, who is more a part of the story than he should be, but he won’t be turning any heads like he was back in ’97.
Neither of these performances or even the story itself matter, though, when you’ve got Halle Berry. This is a formulaic (I’ve said that twice, are you noticing a trend?) star vehicle if I’ve ever seen one. It does go to prove, however, that if you put Halle Berry in a short skirt and have her seduce someone, anyone, then it will at least hold my attention. Under the glossy veneer of being a rogue reporter, Rowe has a dark (and sometimes sexy) side, which is the most interesting part of the film.
But despite some sexy moments from Halle Berry and a few choice bad guy lines from Mr. Willis, this one falls flat. It is an “ok” thriller all the way up to the somewhat creative ending, which is sure to delight the “oh shit!” crowd. And as fun as it becomes when the story finally unravels, you will have lost interest by then. I know I would have, but I was a bit preoccupied with Ms. Berry and her character’s dark side.