on September 04, 1998 by Christine James
   This noir is diluted to a murky grey by overtly Tarantinic mimicry and contrived, corny dialogue. Harry (Ray Liotta), a shady but basically good-hearted police detective, allows himself to be drawn into misdeeds when his gambling addiction gets him in trouble with a bookie, a loanshark and the law. With his partners (Anthony LaPaglia, Daniel Baldwin and Jeremy Piven) themselves enmeshed in various degrees of corruption, Harry has only his own vague moral guidelines, made up primarily of superstitions and compulsions, to look to; unsurprisingly, they lead down the wrong path. A bleak and unoriginal tale of descent and redemption, "Phoenix" is helped by Liotta's textured turn as the ambivalent anti-hero, but the plot is too tepid to be as hard-boiled as it wants to be.    Starring Ray Liotta, Anthony LaPaglia and Anjelica Huston. Directed by Danny Cannon. Written by Eddie Richey. Produced by Victoria Nevinny and Tracie Graham Rice. A Trimark release. Thriller. Rated R for strong violence, language and sexuality. Running time: 107 min.
Tags: Ray Liotta, Anthony LaPaglia, Anjelica Huston, Danny Cannon, Eddie Richey, Victoria Nevinny, Tracie Graham Rice, Trimark, Thriller, violence, sexuality, contrived, shady, police, anti-hero

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