Although it exists primarily to send an audience into a bloodthirsty frenzy, and has major credibility problems in the bargain, Unlawful Entry still works as an effective victimization thriller.

Although it exists primarily to send an audience into a bloodthirsty frenzy, and has major credibility problems in the bargain, Unlawful Entry still works as an effective victimization thriller.

Tense opening scene has a black intruder breaking into the lovely L.A. home of attractive married couple Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe. The man escapes after a scuffle with Russell and holding a knife to Stowe’s throat; the policemen (Ray Liotta and Roger E. Mosley) are the picture of helpfulness and encouragement.

Problem is that Liotta becomes excessively solicitous, arranging for the installation of topnotch security system in the couple’s home and eagerly accepting an invitation to dinner. After speaking nicely to a class at the elementary school where Stowe and her friend Deborah Offner teach, Liotta comes on to Stowe in a quiet but insidious way, and from this point will stop at nothing to get Russell out of the way and have Stowe for himself.

Had the Liotta character been presented as an essentially decent cop gone wrong, story [by George D. Putnam, John Katchmer and Lewis Colick] might have achieved genuinely chilling dimensions. Instead, fact that he’s clearly off-base and demented from the beginning gets everyone off the hook.

Liotta effectively conveys both the nice and nasty sides of his character but true sexual tension between him and Stowe is absent, and he tips his hand too early regarding the man’s instability. Russell is solid as the husband, while Stowe is opaque as the wife.

Unlawful Entry

Production

Largo. Director Jonathan Kaplan; Producer Charles Gordon; Screenplay Lewis Colick, [Ken Friedman]; Camera Jamie Anderson; Editor Curtiss Clayton; Music James Horner; Art Director Lawrence G. Paull

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Kurt Russell Ray Liotta Madeleine Stowe Roger E. Mosley Ken Lerner Deborah Offner
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