Director: George Gallo
Script: Richard Salvatore
Cast: John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, Famke Janssen, Kat Graham, Peter Stormare, Ella Bleu Travolta, Blerim Destani, Robert Patrick, Brendan Fraser
Running time: 93 minutes
Private investigator Carson Philips (John Travolta) spends too much of his time gambling, falling for the wrong kind of woman, smoking, drinking and trying to avoid people who he owes money to or he’s pissed off due to previous cases. But, as with any good detective story, his luck changes with the arrival of a mysterious lady who wants him to find an aunt that she’s concerned about, who just happens to live back in Carson’s old hometown of Galveston, Texas. Initially reluctant to take on the case he agrees because he’s offered $50,000 and he can’t afford to turn down that sort of money.
On arriving at the nursing home where the aunt was last seen, Carson senses all is not right when the dodgy doctor (Brendan Fraser) refuses him access to see her, and he therefore decides to investigate further on the sly. While searching for the missing woman he also has to confront an old friend, Doc (Morgan Freeman), now a powerful crime boss, Doc’s sexy night club singer and daughter (Kat Graham), and his own former lover, Jayne Hunt (Janssen). Plus, to make matters worse, a disgruntled past employer has put a hit out on him so he has a hit-squad to deal with, to boot…
As with any wannabe film noir Eye for an Eye’s plot gets rather convoluted, forcing the viewer to ‘up their game’ and have to pay careful attention as to who says what to who, and, basically, to keep tabs on who’s doing, or done, what to who… But that’s all part of the fun of this particular subgenre of crime thriller.
Boasting a handful of strong performances from the leads, and some cool locations, Eye for an Eye should have been a lot better than it is, but somehow it doesn’t wholly gel. Possibly it’s because the script is trying to be too clever for its own good, or because there’s too much peripheral stuff going on, but it felt more like a made-for-TV movie pilot for a longer TV series, rather than a standalone film.
Unfortunately, I found myself guessing, correctly, what happens next; even the twist – it’s all somewhat predictable. Sadly, the film also lacks energy and seems to plod along, with even the shoot-out scenes feeling a bit ‘so-so’. The music lets the film down too; for the most part it seemed uninspired and manages to remove tension from many scenes instead of building it up. And, although it was supposed to be set in the 70s, I got no real feel of that era, apart from some cool retro cars dotted around.
It must be said that a virtually unrecognisable Brendan Fraser is brilliant as the creepy head of the nursing home and I also enjoyed Robert Patrick’s understated performance as the corrupt sheriff. I wasn’t really sure about Travolta’s daughter’s performance though. I don’t think it helped that she wasn’t really given much meat to her character, who just seems to cry a lot, but at least she had a nice scene or two with her dad.
The film’s original title was The Poison Rose, which makes a lot more sense once you’ve seen it. Surprisingly, this is the first movie that John Travolta and Morgan Freeman have ever been in together. Pity it’s turned out to be something of a disappointment.
However, if you’re a fan of hard-boiled detective stories or film noir you could do a lot worse than to check this out, but I did get the feeling that the film should have ended up being much better than it actually turned out to be; a shame really.
Signature Entertainment is distributing Eye for an Eye on DVD & Blu-ray. Unfortunately, the only extras on the DVD were a couple of trailers for other Signature releases, namely: Arctic and Burning Rubber.