Writer Pablo Fenjves, not venturing far out on a new limb, submits a formula drama about a bitter San Diego guy who picks up a beauteous redhead, steals a couple of million bucks, tries to wipe out his wife and runs off to Mexico, with his wife finally deciding to take action. Viewers will stay tuned: It may be schlock, but it's genuine schlock.

Writer Pablo Fenjves, not venturing far out on a new limb, submits a formula drama about a bitter San Diego guy who picks up a beauteous redhead, steals a couple of million bucks, tries to wipe out his wife and runs off to Mexico, with his wife finally deciding to take action. Viewers will stay tuned: It may be schlock, but it’s genuine schlock.

Unusual casting puts Virginia Madsen in the role of the trusting wife, with Bruce Greenwood as the live-wire husband, an ex-cop who unaccountably has become a sour bank dick.

Five years into their marriage, Greenwood starts up with fetching Kristen Hocking, who’s trusting enough to go along with his plan to shake a bundle from the bank where they both work and head for the border.

Fenjves puts several helpful twists on his meller, such as Hocking’s boyfriend (Carlos Gomez), Madsen’s helpful co-worker in a bookstore (Teresa Truesdale) and Hocking’s hesitant fellow employee at the bank (Vince Melocchi).

But other characters, such as an insurance investigator (Eddie Velez), a police lieutenant (Tim Russ) and a police detective (Jack Verell) only fill in blanks; director Stuart Cooper’s eye is on the main ring.

Madsen commendably works the gullible, troubled wife role in change-of-pace playing. But it’s Greenwood’s meaty part as the over-the-top, no-good husband that grabs attention, while Hocking’s effective other woman with doubts is terrif in a telefilm that’s a cable staple.

Director Cooper pulls off some sharp individual scenes and, even if the telefilm falls to the floor when Madsen starts her vengeance bit, keeps the vidpic hopping.

Frank Byers’ superior camera work catches the closing of a bank safe, travels through a bedroom eyeing a couple on a bed and uses production designer Gary Constable’s San Diego sites to advantage.

Cari Coughlin’s editing is smart, and David Michael Frank’s score is appropriate. It may be old hat, but it’s what the second bill used to be.

Usa World Premiere Movie Bitter Vengeance

(Thurs. (28), 9-11 p.m., USA)

Production

Filmed in San Diego by Fast Track Films Inc. and Wilshire Court Prods. Producer, Christopher Griffin; co-producer/director, Stuart Cooper; writer, Pablo Fenjves.

Crew

Camera, Frank Byers; editor, Cari Coughlin; production designer, Gary Constable; sound, Mark Ulano; music, David Michael Frank.

Cast

Cast: Virginia Madsen, Bruce Greenwood, Kristen Hocking, Eddie Velez, Carlos Gomez, Gordon Jump, Tim Russ, Jack Verell, Vince Melocchi, Teresa Truesdale, Peter Moore, Mary Ingersoll, Rick Zoerner, Michael White, Virginia Hawkins, Erin Chandler, J.D. Smith, Sonya Hensely, J. Michael Ross, Rhonda Reznick, William Alejandro Virchis, Rudy Quintanilla, Robert Gant, Elizabeth Alvarez, Tom Huse, Jack Banning.
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