'Unlawful Entry' defies laws of credibility

February 05, 1993|By Scott Hettrick | Scott Hettrick,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

UNLAWFUL ENTRY

Fox, 1992)

The final downfall of this film is that perennial problem with so many thrillers and horror films: credibility. That is, too many times when you find yourself asking, "Why don't they change the security code" (which they finally do), and "Why don't they just move to another house?"

It also has the obligatory explicit sex scene that you know is coming as soon as you see Madeleine Stowe's name in the titles. After all, when is the last time you saw an R-rated thriller that didn't have a healthy dose of nudity? Not that that's bad, but in this film the scene feels forced and unjustified.

But it's always fun to see an actor go against type and play a despicable villain. And that's this film's strongest point. Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas," "Article 99") is absolutely chilling as seemingly charming and unusually helpful Los Angeles cop Pete Davis, who offers to help the Carrs (Stowe and Kurt Russell) install a foolproof security system after their home is burglarized. They thank him by having him over for dinner. That's their second mistake. Soon Davis is popping by to see Mrs. Carr unannounced and refusing to accept Mr. Carr's rejection for security help with his business.

Mrs. Carr finds the added attention flattering and stupidly encourages it (something the filmmakers fail to justify by offering any signs of a troubled relationship with her husband). But it's no wonder Mr. Carr suspects Davis when his credit cards are canceled and he is arrested for $800 in unpaid parking tickets he never got. Once again you have to raise an eyebrow at the idea of a cop being able to so easily alter someone's credit-card balance and create a fictional criminal record.

When "Unlawful Entry" finally draws to a predictable conclusion, we can't help but be disappointed in the overall ride, but the performances of Mr. Liotta and Ms. Russell are good enough to keep us from asking for a refund.

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