Long-on-the-shelf Liotta vehicle is burnt out

Slow Burn

on April 13, 2007 by Susan Green
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A murder mystery that takes place during a proverbial long, dark night of the soul, Slow Burn has weathered an interminable journey to commercial release. Writer/director Wayne Beach's labyrinthine debut feature was shot in 2003 and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival two years later. In defiance of predictions it would go straight to video, the picture now is heavily promoted in the media as a sexy, stylish big-screen thriller with multicultural complexity and a terrific cast. Many of the actors are indeed exemplary.

Narrator Ray Liotta plays Ford Cole, the district attorney of a big city—Montreal posing as some unidentified urban locale across the border. In a bid to be elected as mayor, he pledges to clean up a crime-ridden neighborhood. Lucky for him, his biracial prosecutor Nora Timmer (Jolene Blalock of TV's Enterprise ) has tripled the number of gang convictions. Unlucky for him, she is suddenly immersed in a sordid scandal.

Nora says she killed an alleged rapist (Mekhi Phifer of ER ) who broke into her home. That story begins to crumble when Luther Pinks (billed as James Todd Smith, aka LL Cool J) shows up at the police station to offer a very different perspective on this femme fatale. Through numerous flashbacks, several possible scenarios are proposed. Some of them include: Taye Diggs, portraying a record store clerk; Bruce McGill as a police chief with a questionable past; and Fisher Stevens, a Slow Burn producer, inhabiting the role of a real-estate developer. Meanwhile, a Vanity Fair reporter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hangs around looking for a scoop.

The plot thickens beyond absurdity, and Cole becomes justifiably confused. In this regard, he mirrors the audience. Although striving for noir twists worthy of The Usual Suspects and Chinatown, Beach (who wrote Murder at 1600 ) achieves only a derivative mess. Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, Mekhi Phifer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taye Diggs and Jolene Blalock
Director/Screenwriter: Wayne Beach
Producers: Fisher Stevens, Sidney Kimmel, Bonnie Timmerman and Tim Williams
Genre: Crime drama
Rating: R for sexuality, violence and language
Running time: 92 min.
Release date: April 13, 2007

Tags: Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, Mekhi Phifer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taye Diggs and Jolene Blalock Director/Screenwriter: Wayne Beach Producers: Fisher Stevens, Sidney Kimmel, Bonnie Timmerman and Tim Williams Genre: Crime drama
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