A homicide detective, Ray Liotta, while investigating a series of murders becomes the prime suspect when the FBI uncovers his close personal ties to all the victims.
One of my all-time favorite films is Martin Scorcese’s “Goodfellas”. That film made me a life-long Ray Liotta fan. He has had a bit of a rocky career, even sometimes going WAY over the top or being WAY out of place (“In The Name of the King” comes to mind), he is still one of those guys that when he does hit his mark, you can’t take your eyes off him. So that brings me to one of his more recent films “The River Murders”. With a supporting cast that includes two other actors that have appeared in films that I would put in my all-time favorites list (“Pulp Fiction”, “True Romance”, and “Heathers”), Ving Rhames and Christian Slater, they deliver a film that is tight and entertaining.
Jack Verdon (Ray Liotta) is a detective who REALLY likes the ladies. He has been married to Ana (Gisele Fraga) for eight years. Until they met, he spent much of his time having one night stands. Lots of them, so many that he has a hard time remembering. He needs to start remembering since there is a killer on the loose and his victims are all Jack’s previous conquests. He leaves his mark by carving a crucifix onto their tongue and placing their wedding rings in a very private place. Jack is suspended until he can be cleared, so he keeps in close contact with his partner Jenny (Sarah Ann Schultz) and Captain Langley (Ving Rhames). The case is much bigger than them when the murders stretch around the country and the FBI is called in. They have to deal with hard ass Agent Vuckovitch (Christian Slater), who wants to wrap this thing up. We are introduced to our killer known only as John (Michael Rodrick) early on and he works in meticulous ways but why does he have it in for Jack?
While the story is good, it does become a bit predictable somewhere around the halfway mark. That isn’t a bad thing though. The movie held my attention and I really enjoyed it. It is mostly a by the numbers murder mystery but the material is handled by director Rich Cowan in a way that keeps you glued to the screen. I wouldn’t say that I was on the edge of my seat, though I was anxious to see how the events unfolded and it satisfies. I firmly believe that the cast elevated this one. The story was good but it didn’t take long to figure out where the film was going, thankfully Liotta does a pretty great job at making Jack a likable character, even if he comes off a tad shady at the start, which I am sure was the filmmaker’s intention. Ving Rhames is a solid performer, I just didn’t feel his character had much to do. Ving is the man though! Sarah Ann Schultz was terrific as Jenny. This is the first film I had seen her in and thought she was great as well as having a multilayered character. My question is why the hell Christian Slater has been relegated to DTV films? The guy has always been great. I know he had some personal issues several years back that may have hindered him but the guy can still deliver. Anyone catch his show last season on FOX “Breaking In”? Great show and it still showed he has great timing.
“The River Murders” is a good film. You could do much worse. It holds your attention and offers some great performances. I would actually go back and watch this film again. It is a cut above your standard DTV films and even better than some theatrical films I have seen recently. I give it **** out of 5 stars. Not great, but definitely worth your time and money to give this one a shot. Liotta carries the film well and just ignore the flack he has been getting lately for having a potbelly.
The River Murders (2011)