It takes too long for the courtroom thriller Guilty as Sin to heat up and engage an audience. Despite some intruiging plot twists and a visceral windup, Sidney Lumet’s study of a war of wills is of very limited interest.
Don Johnson is effectively cast as the literal ladykiller, who’s just been accused of throwing his rich wife out of a highrise window. Like a stalker, he’s become fixated on hotshot criminal lawyer Rebecca DeMornay and uses perverse psychology to get her to take his case.
Soon fearing for her very life when it becomes apparent that Johnson’s killing spree is open-ended, DeMornay has detective Jack Warden gather evidence of Johnson’s previous unsolved murders.
Johnson’s upfront sexism and smug role reversal as a narcissistic gigolo generate comic relief and unintentional risibility in equal measure. DeMornay gets top billing but is saddled with a functional, reactive part.
Andrzej Bartkowiak’s compositions and lighting add menace to the urban locations, lensed in Canada as a convincing double for Chicago settings.