Malice [1993]

Director: Harold Becker
Stars: Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, Bill Pullman, Bebe Neuwirth, George C. Scott
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 107 minutes

Movie critic Roger Ebert made this amusing observation about Malice: "This is the only movie I can recall in which an entire subplot about a serial killer is thrown in simply for atmosphere." He's referring to the fact that this hokey but highly charged thriller is so packed with plot twists and red herrings that you'll soon find yourself so confused that you just have to sit back and hope that it will all make sense by the time the credits roll. It never does make much sense, but the movie at least has the look, feel, and twisted momentum of a really good thriller, and the talent on both sides of the camera is pretty impressive. Alec Baldwin plays a hot-shot surgeon who meets up with an old med-school buddy (Bill Pullman), whose wife (Nicole Kidman) has no objections when Baldwin moves into the upstairs room of their New England Victorian home. The situation's ripe for intrigue, suspicion, temptation, emergency surgery, legal proceedings, and just about anything else you'd find in a movie that desperately struggles to out-Hitchcock Hitchcock. Talk about McGuffins--this movie's chock full of 'em! When the plot thickens to the consistency and clarity of quicksand, you can still enjoy the darkly stylish work of master cinematographer Gordon Willis--or you can check out director Harold Becker's more coherent thriller Sea of Love. With Kidman and Baldwin working up a steamy lather, this one's just fun enough to be an agreeable waste of time. --Jeff Shannon

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