Original Sin

One sign that a studio is losing faith in its own movie is the lack of a preview screening for critics. Another is the seemingly pointless and arbitrary postponement of release. Guess what? Original Sin has both elements (the delay here was about six months). And it is every bit as bad as one would expect. Original Sin, based on the book Waltz Into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich, feels like it belongs on a cable station late at night or in a video store in the direct-to-video section. At 115 minutes, it is about 2 hours too long for its own good.

Writer/director Michael Cristofer (Gia, Breaking Up) is presumably trying to comment on the lengths somebody will go for love. Love will cause a man to do things he thought himself incapable of, and true love transcends good or evil. Love is love, and love can change anything. Whatever. Cristofer goes about this in such a dull way that any message fails to come across convincingly. The man in love is Luis Vargas (Antonio Banderas, The Body, Spy Kids). His mail order bride Julia Russel (Angelina Jolie, Tomb Raider, Gone in Sixty Seconds) looks amazing. Nothing like the picture she sent him. It turns out she did not want a husband who desired her only for her looks. Vargas was looking for a woman who would be a good wife and mother, but hey, he'll take somebody who looks like Angelina Jolie.

Their relationship consists mostly of lust. Lots of Banderas butt shots and Jolie's breasts appear on screen, for no real reason. Vargas develops a deep sense of love for Russel, only to have her disappear on him with all their money. He discovers that she was not Julia Russel, but a con artist. A private investigator (Thomas Jane, Under Suspicion, 61) contacts Vargas, also seeking Russel. At this point, Original Sin begins to fall apart. Vargas goes on an anticlimactic search for Russel, and the plot takes a number of twists and turns.

Some twists in a movie are okay. Original Sin feels the need to constantly assail the audience with plot twist after plot twist. The constant double-crossing loses its surprise the fourth or fifth time around. In order to makes these twists effective is a strong plot. Since Original Sin is so dull, it makes no difference when one person turns out to not be whom he/she is. What makes things worse is that the characters are so uninteresting. Jolie's character has two facets; lover and scam artist (well, sometimes she's both). The Vargas character is plain baffling. The decisions he makes make no sense whatsoever. These decisions to not portray him in the greatest light, so nobody really wants to root for him or anybody else. Original Sin keeps dragging on, seeming to go on forever, before a wimpy ending.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 55 minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content and some violence.

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