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Femme Fatale (2002)
Rated R

Starring: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas, and Peter Coyote

Rating:
**
out of
*****

Brian De Palma used to be one of my favorite directors. Back in the 80s, I eagerly awaited each of his films. Movies like Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, and The Untouchables are neo-classics in my opinion. Sure, some people thought him to be a second-rate Hitchcock clone but I enjoyed his films immensely. Then he started to make films like The Bonfire of the Vanities, Casualties of War and Mission to Mars. In other words, movies I either hated or couldn't have cared less about.

Femme Fatale looked to be a return to form for Mr. De Palma. It's a film-noir inspired bait-and-switch film that plays with audiences' heads for a few hours. It could have been fun. It turns out to be quite a bore-fest.

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos plays Laure, a member of a team of crooks out to steal a diamond-studded wardrobe piece from the woman who wears it to the Cannes Film Festival. Using hardware that would have looked at home in De Palma's 1998 Mission: Impossible, the heist is underway when things appear to go wrong. Laure gets the diamonds, but her partners get captured or shot. In a weird case of mistaken identity, Laure makes it to the U.S. and marries a U.S. ambassador (Peter Coyote.) Seven years later, she finds herself back in France, and trying to avoid being photographed for fear that her former partners might come looking for her.

I won't spoil anymore of the plot because it is an interesting and intricate story. It does have its share of neat twists and turns. Unfortunately, though, the movie seems to be on auto-pilot. Having seen a number of De Palma's early films, many of the film's sequences appeared overly familiar. Others seemed to jump from the screen and say "Look! This is important! In fact, it's in slow motion so you'll recognize its significance!"

The odd thing about a movie named Femme Fatale is that the leading male role is the most interesting. Antonio Banderas as a down-on-his-luck photographer is the most entertaining thing in the entire film. (Well, the shots of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos dancing in a dive bar in Paris aren't bad either.)

In any case, this is a movie that simply falls flat. It's not entirely predictable and it is fun to try to figure out where it's all going but it's not exactly edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Had I possessed a remote control in the theater, I would have attempted to switch to something more captivating. Like Body Double or Dressed to Kill.

Trivia: John Stamos, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos's now ex-husband, is uncredited as the "cheesy agent" who contacts Antonio's character on the phone. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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