Detective, here’s my statement about the lurid and ludicrous and slick new thriller “Fatale”:
It is absolutely nothing like “Fatal Attraction” or “Fatal Affair” or “Single White Female” or “Chloe” or “Unforgettable” or “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” or “When the Bough Breaks” or “Obsessed” or “The Roommate” or “Swimfan” or any other movie about seemingly well-adjusted, often successful, intelligent, initially sweet and attractive women who in reality are bat-bleep crazy, knife-wielding, gun-toting, obsessive killer psychos.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Until the next paragraph.
As you might have surmised, “Fatale” is just the latest and far from the greatest entry in the female stalker genre, and while it’s a well-photographed film with solid performances from the strong cast, it’s not nearly inventive enough to make its own mark, nor is it so over the top and ridiculous that I can recommend it as a Wine Night Guilty Pleasure Movie. As the plot twists grow increasingly ridiculous and some of the main characters have to act like complete idiots just to keep the story rambling along, “Fatale” commits the crime of somehow becoming tedious and dull even as the body count piles up.
Michael Ealy, who has on-camera charisma to burn but has never quite reached the star status that seemed inevitable some 20 years ago, gives his usual empathetic and solid performance as Derrick, a former college basketball star who now runs a sports agency with his best friend Rafe (Mike Colter), and we know business is booming because Derrick and his wife Traci (Damaris Lewis) live in what looks to be a $10 million house up in the Hollywood Hills.
Derrick and Traci seem to have it all, but Traci has grown aloof and the romance has been drained from their marriage, in large part because Derrick is always working. At a friend’s bachelor party in Las Vegas, Rafe encourages Derrick to let loose. Take off the wedding ring, just for one night!
Enter Hilary Swank’s Valerie, who’s at the bar by herself and waiting for Derrick as if the script called for it. The morning after a steamy tryst in Valerie’s hotel suite, Derrick tries to leave, but in a scene with distinct echoes of a certain moment in “Fatal Attraction,” Valerie shows the first signs of being unhinged as she persuades the clueless Derrick to get back into bed with her.
Shortly after Derrick returns to L.A., an intruder breaks into Derrick and Traci’s home and nearly kills Derrick. The cops are summoned and the lead detective arrives, and what do you know: It’s Valerie, aka LAPD Detective Valerie Quinlan.
Over the next several days, Derrick squirms as Valerie plays games with him and taunts him and chastises him for not telling her he was married when they were in Vegas. She starts tearing apart Derrick’s life, piece by piece, even as we learn via flashback why Valerie’s ex-husband has a restraining order against her and Valerie isn’t allowed to come near their daughter.
We know where things will go from here, and unfortunately, “Fatale” meets our expectations every step of the way, never once contributing anything different or unique or memorable to this increasingly tiresome genre.