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Slow Burn
DVD disk
Aug 17, 2007 By: Jason Adams
Slow Burn order
Director:
Wayne Beach

Actors:
Ray Liotta
Jolene Blalock
LL Cool J

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When his best prosecutor kills a man she claim tried to rape her, a district attorney with political aspirations begins to investigate the matter, only to find that he’s already caught up in a trail of deceit leading to the city’s top crime boss.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I remember seeing NARC, which starred and was produced by Ray Liotta, and thinking ‘Henry Hill is finally back in form, baby!’ But then here he is, producing and starring in a USUAL SUSPECTS knock off that’s had the dubious honor of sitting on a shelf since 2003. (And with WILD HOGS and DUNGEON SIEGE on his resume, it’s safe to say all hope is lost for Liotta.)

SLOW BURN is a second rate urban murder-mystery centered on racial barriers, gang violence and…real estate? It’s not terrible so much as it is uninspired, taking cues from pretty much every movie that’s shared a similar plotline. The script also thinks it’s a lot cleverer than it actually is, with moments of “Hey look! We’re like RASHAMON!” storytelling and a mystery that isn’t all that mysterious (or interesting).

The original script must’ve looked more promising on paper than it does on the screen, given the cast that turned up for it. Aside from Liotta, who gets to do a good deal of his patented Ray Liotta-yelling, there’s Mekhi Pfifer, LL Cool J, and the equally underutilized Chiwetel Ejiofor and Taye Diggs. Jolene Blalock from one of the Star Treks does a fine job playing the lady at the center of the mystery and looking eerily like Angelina Jolie (even when it comes to getting naked). Besides the actors, there are a couple other nice touches in the film—the idea of mixed races blending back and forth was interesting—but there’s also some absolute crap, especially the dialogue: “She walked in smelling like mashed potatoes and every guy within 30 feet wanted to be the gravy.” LL Cool J really says this.

And remember that line in ADAPTATION where Brian Cox tells Nic Cage that it doesn’t matter what comes before, as long as you “wow” them in the end? Apparently that was the only lesson that first time director Wayne Beach took to heart. The man throws in an obscene number of twists in the last twenty minutes, to the point of near parody. One or two were fairly decent, but after a while it was like having a surprise party thrown for you by a crowd full of people with ADD:

“Haha, surprise! Just kidding, this is the real surprise. Psych, bitches! No, seriously, that was the last one. Except for this one. And this one. Your mom.”
THE EXTRAS
Hey, they tried…

Commentary with director Wayne Beach: Beach talks pretty much the whole time on topic with the film, but there really wasn’t anything special or worthwhile to heartily recommend listening.

Fire in the Streets (7:22): A series of interviews with cast and crew that mostly just go over the plot and characters.

Alternate Scene (1:48): Another version of the film’s ending, this time with narration from Blalock’s character instead of Liotta’s. It doesn’t really add anything new or make sense to hear from her character.

Deleted Scene (1:04): A quick scene featuring Blalock interrogating a suspect.

Trivia Track: Does anybody really care about trivia for this movie?

And Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A decent cast can’t save what amounts to an average and formulaic (until the end) story. Maybe if you haven’t been exposed to other better crime/mystery movies, you’ll enjoy SLOW BURN.

Extra Tidbit: Since when does LL Cool J go by James Todd Smith? The ladies don’t love that.
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