According to Police Commissioner John Mills, a good Police Inspector can "read" a room upon entering it. This means that in a manner of seconds, said Inspector can scan and remember all sorts of information like descriptions of the various people in the room, as well as any pertinent physical attributes. Okay, let's apply that same methodology to the plot of Twisted. A number of men are turning up dead, beaten badly. Their only connection is new Inspector Jessica Shepherd; they all had one-night stands with her. Shepherd has been blacking out whenever somebody dies, so she isn't sure if she is the murderer. Worse, she has problems with anger. There is her jealous ex-boyfriend, or Mike Delmarco, her new partner with something bad in his past. Oh, and he was following her at the beginning of the film. Then, there is her department psychiatrist, who knows about her anger issues and seems to be pushing her buttons. Finally, there is the Commissioner himself, Shepherd's mentor who raised her after her father went on a murder spree that ended with him killing Shepherd's mother then committing suicide. So who's the real murderer? The answer is way too obvious, making all of the red herrings in Twisted completely pointless.

Ashley Judd (Frida, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) hasn't done much film in a while, and Twisted is a highly inauspicious return. Judd is Shepherd, which is pretty much the same role she played in Kiss the Girls, High Crimes, and Double Jeopardy. Only this time, Samuel L. Jackson subs for Morgan Freeman. This time, she's even smarter and more headstrong. She picks up strangers in bars and has one-night stands with them. In other words, she is a man. Yet, writer Sarah Thorp (See Jane Run) is not examining gender stereotypes and their reversals, she is writing a horribly bad serial killer screenplay. It's a shame for Judd, who showed a lot of promise as an actor when she first emerged. As she built her film resume, she chose roles that demanded less and less of her, and now it's obvious she's wasting her enormous talent. In the opening minutes of Twisted, she takes down a perp, and, to show her hostility problem, director Philip Kaufman (Quills, Rising Sun) has Judd kick the suspect. Well, it looks like Judd kicking the suspect, not like an angry officer taking out her frustration.

Unbelievably, Mills (Jackson, S.W.A.T., Basic) argues that Shepherd should remain on the case, even though anybody with half a brain would do otherwise. Shepherd herself should know better, but she still stays on. There are some pathetic attempts at explaining this (this is her first case, they don't want to tip off the killer), but they don't work. Shepherd stays on because there would be no plot otherwise. Her partner Delmarco (Andy Garcia, Confidence, Ocean's Eleven) is also prone to random fits of violent rage, and Garcia looks like an idiot when he explodes for no reason. The one sane voice of reason comes from David Strathairn (Blue Car, Harrison's Flowers), who, as Dr. Melvin Frank, provides the same sense of gravitas he seems to bring to all his roles.

Twisted falls apart because it is a jumble of stray plot points connected together with the same characters. It feels like Thorp came up with what she thought was a clever ending and worked her way backwards, on the assumption that anybody seeing this film has never seen a mystery before. Every attempt to cast guilt on somebody else fails because it is just too obvious who the actual killer is. Kaufman, who, at one point was a good director, now veers wildly with his film choices. He is working with a top-rate cast here, and they have absolutely nothing worthwhile to do.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated R for violence, language, and sexuality.

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