Slow Burn (review)

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Early on in this hopelessly naive “thriller,” urban prosecutor Ray Liotta (Wild Hogs) notes of his misbehaving underling that she is an “assistant D.A. of color”; I thought I must have misheard, because clearly this character could not be mistaken for black if her life depended on it, but later, LL Cool J’s (S.W.A.T.) enigmatic narrator calls her a “fine sister.” If you’re thinking, “Wait, Jolene Blalock — that Vulcan chick from Enterprise — she’s black?” then you are not alone. The theme of racial confusion that attempts to underlie this would-be noirish murder mystery becomes just one more unintentionally hilarious aspect: dead lovers, governmental corruption, and a woefully botched who-is-Keyser-Soze conundrum come together in a mess that is meant to be edgy and titillating and is, at best, uncomfortable and icky — I’ve rarely seen a sex scene pulled off with such a lack of understanding for what makes something sexy onscreen — and at worst, cause for derisive laughter. Shot in 2003, this flick has been sitting on studio shelf since then, and it should have been left there.

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