Movie critic Roger Ebert made this amusing observation about Malice: "This is the only movie I can recall in which an entire subplot about a serial killer is thrown in simply for atmosphere." He's referring to the fact tha... more »t this hokey but highly charged thriller is so packed with plot twists and red herrings that you'll soon find yourself so confused that you just have to sit back and hope that it will all make sense by the time the credits roll. It never does make much sense, but the movie at least has the look, feel, and twisted momentum of a really good thriller, and the talent on both sides of the camera is pretty impressive. Alec Baldwin plays a hot-shot surgeon who meets up with an old med-school buddy (Bill Pullman), whose wife (Nicole Kidman) has no objections when Baldwin moves into the upstairs room of their New England Victorian home. The situation's ripe for intrigue, suspicion, temptation, emergency surgery, legal proceedings, and just about anything else you'd find in a movie that desperately struggles to out-Hitchcock Hitchcock. Talk about McGuffins--this movie's chock full of 'em! When the plot thickens to the consistency and clarity of quicksand, you can still enjoy the darkly stylish work of master cinematographer Gordon Willis--or you can check out director Harold Becker's more coherent thriller Sea of Love. With Kidman and Baldwin working up a steamy lather, this one's just fun enough to be an agreeable waste of time. --Jeff Shannon« less
"Leonard Maltin, who usually agrees with me (!), gives this movie only 2 1/2 stars. The Amazon reviewer says it doesn't make much sense and is full of McGuffins! Well, they're both way off base this time. McGuffins? Try to come up with even one good one, and you'll have something that most thrillers don't have at all. Come up with several, as does MALICE, and you have a totally brilliant thriller. Yes, the serial killer subplot was thrown in--for laughs, maybe? No matter, it served its purpose of deflection, setting up the main character, and even -- horror of horrors! -- filling time while time needs to be passing by in order for the main plot to mature. The movie was touted as being from the same director who brought us SEA OF LOVE, which to my mind is an immediate turn-off. But it shows--as William Goldman shows so clearly in his books--that the same director can be quite different depending on the screenplay. MALICE has a great screenplay, so all the director had to do was film it. Of course, I exaggerate, but wait a moment--look who he had to work with: Nicole Kidman, Alec Baldwin, and Bill Pullman. Each turned in a totally outstanding, memorable performance. Pullman had the hardest role and he pulled it off. Kidman is one of the greatest actresses of our generation. Baldwin was good as usual, and we especially have to thank the casting director for choosing him for this role, which seems to be "pure Baldwin," if you know what I mean (e.g., most Bogart movies are "pure Bogart," as if there were no one else who could possibly play that role, including George Raft as Rick in CASABLANCA). And even Peter Gallagher shows up here in an early role that makes a strong impression. George C. Scott is perfect, as always, in a cameo role. Nicole Kidman does not seem to be all that impressive through most of the movie, but she's playing a role, and playing it to the hilt, as we find out later. She gets her chance to show what she can do in the last fifteen minutes, and you can see her incredible range, her ability to focus the film, the depth of her resources as an actress, which she exceeds only in her bravura role in TO DIE FOR. All in all, MALICE is one of the finest thrillers of the 90s, and my prediction is that it will become a major cult favorite and be reissued sooner or later on DVD."
See It Once For The Story, And Again For The Acting
Kimberly Murphy-Smith | Laurel, MD USA | 08/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"MALICE is one of those movies that you simply MUST see more than once to believe. The first time through, MALICE is a great psychological thriller, with twists and turns through a plot that contains rape, murder, life-and-death trauma, and a fight to the death...all within the first 45 minutes. The second time through, though, provides a look at all the things you might have missed the first time around...and a chance to savor an outstanding performance from perhaps the most underrated actor in Hollywood, Alec Baldwin.Bill Pullman plays Andy Safian, an associate dean at a small New England college outside of Boston that's currently under siege by a serial rapist who claims his latest victim as the film opens. Nicole Kidman plays his wife Tracy, a volunteer in the pediatrics ward of St. Agnes Hospital. They're renovating a Victorian house and need $14,000 for the plumbing. Enter Alec Baldwin as Dr. Jed Hill, a former high school classmate of Andy's, who's brand new in town and needs a place to stay. Andy needs the money, Jed needs a room, so the two hook up and soon Jed is sleeping upstairs in the Safiens' home...usually not alone, and his sexual escapades are grating on Tracy's nerves. The rapes continue, Andy is fingered as a suspect, and in the midst of it all, Tracy collapses with a ruptured ovarian cyst. Jed operates to save her life (after a night of drinking and wild partying), but renders her unable to bear children...leading to a malpractice suit from Tracy and an incredible soliloquy on surgeons with a God complex from Jed during the deposition.But once the first half of the film is over, things really start to roll. Without revealing the rest of the plot, suffice it to say that as Andy, Tracy, and Jed all try to start their lives over again, their fates become inextricably entangled.The movie is worth seeing once as a thriller. But the second time around, Baldwin's mesmerizing performance is what stands out. Jed is charismatic, seductive, and as charming as a cobra as he weaves his spell over the Safiens. Baldwin's ability to jump from utterly charming to incredibly chilling in the blink of an eye is on full display here; it is truly the performance of a lifetime.See it once for the suspense, and again for the acting."
Twisting and Entertaining
Mark J. Fowler | Okinawa, Japan | 06/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Proper enjoyment of this diverting little feature requires not knowing the plot twists, so I'll try to not spoil that enjoyment in praising this film.
I join Roger Ebert in not being able to think of another film that throws in a serial killer as just atmosphere - I watched this movie when it first came out a decade ago, then again on DVD yesterday, and I had completely forgotten the part about the serial killer.
Aside from the fact that George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft have left us, it would be difficult to assemble a cast like this wouldn't it? Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, Bill Pullman, Anne Bancroft, Gwyneth Paltrow, George C. Scott, Bebe Newirth, Peter Gallagher all contribute to this film.
I love to watch films of any genre and any country and the sensation I like to have at the end of the viewing experience is "satisfied" - in the same way that I'd like my palate and belly "satisfied" by a good meal. This screenplay twists and turns, but rather than in a Charlie Kaufman "hey-look-at-how-many-unexpected-twists-and-turns-I-can-put-in" kind of way this story moves in a way that wraps up loose ends in a "satisfied" kind of way.
Especially used, this DVD can be had for a song also. It's a satisfactory way to pass a couple of hours."
Chrissy K. McVay | North Carolina | 03/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this again to see if I could pick up on 'where' in the movie I should've been clued in that things weren't as they seemed, and innocent characters were certainly anything but. I also realized why the serial killer had to be part of the beginning of the movie (something I didn't pick up on the first time). The murders led to a test that was 'necessary' in order to reveal one of the huge clues that becomes the turning point of the movie, and helps a couple of the characters 'wise up'. Definitely worth watching, mystery fans... Chrissy K. McVay - Author"
Really good thriller....
J. Fryer | Nicholasville, KY | 02/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If, like me, you somehow missed "Malice' when it was originally released, then you are in for a treat if you view it now. Never being a really big Nicole Kidman fan, I discovered she was at the top of her game in this movie that is all about playing games with the viewer's mind. Alec Baldwin was exceptional and convincing in his role as a doctor with a God-complex. Bill Pullman was cast perfectly for his role as loving husband. Ann Bancroft and George C. Scott gave sterling performances in key roles. Frasier's wife Lilith with Cliff's accent was adequate in a different sort of role for Bebe Neuwirth. Look for a young Gwyneth Paltrow as a troubled college student.The star of this film was definitely the plot twists and turns. Though I waited, I never became so mired in their tangle that I had to sit back and wait for it to work out. I was much to busy being entertained by the maliciously delicious manner the paths of the story took from scene to intriguing scene. Watching older films on DVD I have discovered that most of all I enjoy those that are a 'pleasure' to watch, those they provide entertainment and enjoyment. This film did just that and at no time was it a waste of my time, agreeable or otherwise. My DVD offers a choice of wide-screen or full screen formats. The color saturation was marvelous. There were not a lot of extra features, but the theatrical trailer was different and interesting. Viewers who love thrillers will enjoy 'Malice' as film that has aged well, offers an excellent cast, and retains it ability to thrill and entertain."