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SECOND SKIN

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Natasha Henstridge, Angus McFadyen, Liam White, Peter Fonda
Director: Darrel James Roodt
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Studio: Artisan
Features: Trailer
Length: 91 Minutes
Release Date: April 10, 2001

Film *

Second Skin can best be described as the most lame attempt to capture a film noir-like essence. It's one of those films where it looks as if the filmmakers borrowed from several other films of its type, threw out all the good parts, and then tried to shoot was left in the dark. It makes perfect sense that the movie made its debut on cable television because it lacks a certain cinematic quality and appeal. And as for plot, it is anything but cohesive and comprehendible.

The best way I can describe the plot is as follows; a beauty named Crystal (Natasha Henstridge) walks into an antique bookstore, which is run by Sam (Angus McFadyen). When exiting the store, Crystal is hit by an oncoming car, and Sam comes to her rescue, and as expected, the two ignite a steamy love affair as a result. What exactly am I watching here, soft-core porn on Cinemax? Even though the movie is clearly not one of that nature, the way the love scenes are set up could be labeled as similar to Friday late-night viewing.

* I suppose I am about to spoil some revealing moments in the movie, but trust me, it's nothing the least bit shocking or surprising. *

Anyway, it's soon revealed that there might be more to Crystal than Sam, and we, have come to realize. Sam, it turns out, used to be employed in the mob, and Crystal's secret identity may be that of a hit woman sent by Sam's former employers to execute an act of revenge. Sam's ex-boss who's attempting to wipe him out is played by Peter Fonda, who you may recall, scored a memorable comeback in 1997's Ulee's Gold, but since then, hasn't really made any movies of that film's quality, other than his savvy role as a crooked music executive in Steven Soderberg's The Limey in 1999. To see an actor of legendary status as him appearing in this film, where he doesn't really have many scenes and yet is supposed to be playing a pivotal character raises a good number of questions.

But then again, a lot of things in this movie raise questions. Natasha Henstridge had a unique presence in her debut movie Species, which was followed by very inane sequel. She also had a juicy role in the hilarious comedy The Whole Nine Yards, but she doesn't seem to be anything in this movie other than an object for sex. She's an actress that possesses immense talent, but Second Skin doesn't give her a chance to demonstrate any of it, as well as any of the other actors. The movie seems like an all around excuse for a paycheck.

Video ***

Artisan never fails at transfers, it seems, and while Second Skin isn't the best to come from the studio in terms of video quality, it's a very acceptable one, and the studio offers a good job as they always do on this disc. The picture is presented in an anamorphically enhanced widescreen version, and the picture, while a bit flawed and soft in its darkly lit moments, is clear and sharp for the rest of the movie.

Audio ***

The same can be said for Artisan's audio job for Second Skin. While it's not memorable or state of the art, it is good enough to serve the movie well. The movie is presented on a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, and a French track is included as well. For a thriller, this movie mostly contains dialogue, but the audio pick-up seemed even good enough for that standard.

Features *

Only a trailer. Seeing as the movie didn't even appear in theaters, and seem destined for TV and video, I'm surprised that a trailer was even made.

Summary:

Second Skin comes off as nothing more than clones of much better movies. If it's top quality film noir you're in search off, go with films such as L.A. Confidential or The Maltese Falcon, which are both classics, and viewing those films again is a much better decision than wasting time on this one.