Halle Berry’s in trouble again, as this Oscar-winning actress so often is. In “Perfect Stranger,” Berry plays big-city reporter Rowena Price, known for her undercover exposes – and no, that sentence is not a double entendre.
However, Rowena’s latest ruse is personal. When a friend turns up murdered, she suspects that advertising bigwig Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis) might be guilty – he was having an extramarital fling with the dead woman before, you know, she was dead.
Rowena gets hired at Hill’s company and proceeds to attract his notice. All right, that’s believable, she’s Halle Berry.
What’s less believable about Todd Komarnicki’s script is the chain of coincidences that need to occur for the story to play out. Also the fact that the final 10 minutes changes what came before.
If this sounds like the usual formula for a Sandra Bullock-Ashley Judd thriller, it is, but there’s one difference: “Perfect Stranger” sports a decidedly kinky side. This movie has an undercurrent of sex and voyeurism that gives it a little extra pizzazz.
That goes for Rowena as well as her co-worker Miles (Giovanni Ribisi), a tech-head who does most of the keyboarding in the film. Since there is a great deal of instant messaging and hacking and downloading going on, he’s central to the plot.
Miles might be Rowena’s mysteriously platonic friend, but he also likes to hang around her apartment and secretly peep on her sexual encounters.
Some of this unsavory flavor might be the work of director James Foley, an uneven talent who sometimes channels his wild-man energy into something interesting (“Glengarry Glen Ross,” for instance). Here, Foley keeps the heat turned up, but he can’t get over the holes in the plot.
Bruce Willis ably fills out his supporting role, playing Hill on a fine line: He’s clearly a corporate monster but he also oozes charm, and his murderous possibilities are in doubt until the very end.
Halle Berry doesn’t fare as well. She actually seems more comfortable playing neurotic or abused characters, so her straight take on a heroine pretty much evaporates while you’re watching her. But again, the final 10 minutes changes everything … and if you still care at that point, go ahead and think about it.
Halle Berry and Bruce Willis star in “Perfect Stranger.”