WOW acting talent in every direction...so much I can say, but they'd be spoilers. Just trust the actors you see staring here, a solid story, great directing. One of the best films.
Gekko grown older? Maybe!
Joseph Leydon | Texas | 04/11/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For the record, "A Perfect Murder" is a remake of "Dial M for Murder," Alfred Hitchcock's maliciously clever but hopelessly stagebound adaptation of the popular play by Frederick Knott. But it is great deal more fun to view the new movie as a sequel to "Wall Street," with Michael Douglas once again in top form as a ruthlessly manipulative financial whiz. Imagine Gordon Gekko just a few years past his prime as a high-flying corporate raider, with a trophy wife who's just beginning to tarnish, and you'll get the idea. The big difference is, this time, instead of extolling the virtues of greed, Douglas' character is willing to consider the benefits of an even deadlier sin. In "A Perfect Murder," which Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive") has directed from a screenplay by Patrick Smith Kelly, Douglas is Steven Taylor, a Manhattan-based millionaire industrialist who has over-extended himself while playing the international money markets. Worse, he knows that his most prized possession -- Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow), his radiantly beautiful and conspicuously younger wife -- is drifting out of his jealously tight grip. Right from the start, the audience knows that Emily is having an affair with David (Viggo Mortensen), a broodingly hunky artist who invites her to his fashionably seedy downtown loft for afternoon delights. Trouble is, Steven also knows about the affair. This, too, is made clear very early in the story, as Steven and Emily share a drink in their luxurious apartment before attending a gallery opening. Despite all their polite chit-chat, there is an edge of menace in the air. When Steven abruptly suggests that she wear another dress to the occasion, his words have the unmistakable sound of a command. Not surprisingly, Emily does as she's told. At the gallery opening, Steven is effortlessly gracious as his wife introduces him to David, whom she identifies as a casual acquaintance. Of course, he's much more than that -- much more, in fact, than even Emily realizes. After inviting himself to David's loft, Steven reverts to his natural state. He knows that David is an ex-convict who taught himself to paint in prison -- and, more important, has mastered the art of seducing, then robbing, rich women. Sounding very much like a hard-bargaining businessman, Steven wastes little time in making his pitch: He offers David $500,000 to kill Emily. For a few minutes, David rejects the offer. But the money -- coupled with the threat of exposure -- is too tempting to resist. It would be difficult to say more about what happens next without running the risk of spilling some beans. Even if you've already seen Hitchcock's 1954 original, or one of the many revivals of Knott's play, you are in for a few surprises. Davis and Kelly treat "Dial M for Murder" more as a source of inspiration than a classic worthy of replication. They take the play's basic set-up -- the husband concocts a tricky murder scheme that hinges on the placement of a latchkey and the ringing of a telephone -- but go off in a different, far more intriguing direction. Perhaps the most striking difference between Hitchcock's film and Davis' update is the casually amoral cynicism that informs "A Perfect Murder." In the 1954 thriller, the wife's lover was a boyishly buoyant mystery writer, affably played by Robert Cummings, while the wife -- played by Hitchcock's favorite leading lady, Grace Kelly -- was a relatively innocent adulteress who generated sympathy while paying for her sins. Even the cuckolded husband, played by Ray Milland, came across as genial rogue who was motivated by love as much as money. Welcome to the 1990s: In "A Perfect Murder," the lover is a con man with a gift for blackmail, the husband has lust in his heart for his wife's trust fund, and even the wife is a strong believer in enlightened self-interest. You won't feel excessive sympathy for any of these characters as they hatch their plots and counter-plots. In fact, you may think one of them gets off far too easily in the end. But with the lead roles cast so effectively, and the plot twisting so cleverly, you likely will wind up feeling that, unlike Steven, you've gotten your money's worth."
Featuring a two-fisted Gwyneth Paltrow
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 01/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This quasi-remake of Hitchcock?s Dial M for Murder (1954)--which was filmed in 3D, by the way--is a rather good thriller in its own right, intelligently done throughout except for a few scenes near the end when Director Andrew Davis and screenwriter Patrick Smith Kelly lose their judgment and opt for a silly knock down, drag out fight.Michael Douglas plays a quintessential evil kind of guy, evil, ruthless, greedy, two-faced, crafted to excite our loathing (?How?s THIS for wet work??). He is excellent. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his very rich wife who has incredibly poor taste in men. Seems that Gwyneth has become attracted to roles that get her involved with the wrong kind of guys, witness The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) and Sliding Doors (1998). But she is also very good, as is Viggo Mortensen who plays the murderous con artist.The plot is tight and filled with nice twists. The sets are opulent and dripping with money, and neither the direction nor the camera work calls undue attention to itself. But what really makes this fly is the material on which it is based, the devilishly clever play by Frederick Knott, who reigned on Broadway many years ago. I?ll bet that Paltrow was persuaded in part to take the role because the same part was played in the Hitchcock movie by the legendary Grace Kelly. Also, another Frederick Knott play made into a movie was Wait Until Dark (1967) starring the also legendary Audrey Hepburn. I suspect Paltrow could hardly resist joining such illustrious company, especially when the plot here allows her to take matters into her own hands, as it were, and give to her two guys considerably more than she gets.Bottom line: you will be diverted."
Much Better Than The Original....Except The Ending
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 05/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Boy, here's one re-make I thought was far superior to the original ("Dial M For Murder," with Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Bob Cummings.) In this film, the stars are Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen.
The best part of this film may not be the story, or the acting, both of which keep you glued to the screen, but the stylish photography and sets.. They look magnificent, mainly the apartment of the the two leads. I was constantly awed by how good this film looks. The DVD transfer is beautiful.
I also prefer the sequel because it has more twists and is complex enough to thoroughly enjoy every 3-4 years. Also fun are the short speeches each character gives on occasion, usually when they smugly think they have the upper hand. Each time that happens, their antagonist winds up going one up on them! There isn't much action in here but when it occurs, it's very intense.
The only thing that annoys me - unfortunately it's a big one - is the ending in which I don't believe justice totally prevailed. I can't wrote much more without spoiling it for those who have not seen this. One of the parties comes out looking like a 'an innocent victim" and that person was hardly a "saint." If all the parties had received just due, it would have been more satisfying and I would have rated this a '5' without hesitation. "
Dark and Brooding, This Film Stands Well on its Own
Robert J. Schneider | Tacoma, WA USA | 10/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having never seen the Alfred Hitchcock classic DIAL M FOR MURDER, I have absolutely nothing with which to compare this film, except the slick mystery/suspense thrillers of the 1980's and '90's. In this category, A PERFECT MURDER (1998) ranks among the better ones.With Michael Douglas at his sordid best, Gwyneth Paltrow in the middle of her breakout year (doing films such as GREAT EXPECTATIONS--another re-make, SLIDING DOORS, HUSH and finally, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, which resulted in a well-deserved Oscar statue for her) and still-rising Viggo Mortensen, the screenplay by Patrick Smith Kelly fits each of these actors' personas so neatly that you would swear the words were written with these actors fully in mind. Add in the lush photograghy, which successfully captures the deep, brooding tone of the film and you've got a real winner here. Indoor shots in the townhouse where Douglas and Paltrow's characters live reveal tall ceilings and lots of sharp, sinister brown and orange colors. Shots in Mortensen's artist's loft display soft blue-gray hues and wide spaces filled with work (as opposed to the townhouse which is filled solely with material "things"). The dialogue fits each character and remains true. Even with all the twists and turns in the plot (expected in films like this, anyway), the story remains interesting and does not feel contrived. It's amazing that Warner Bros. waited a full 5 years after this film's initial release to put it out on DVD. I think the wait was well worth it--both the sound and picture quality on this disc are excellent. If you have noticed that I have only commented on the technical merits of A PERFECT MURDER and not the story, this is intentional, as the story itself is neatly summed up in one sentence--Douglas is a rich financial wiz who's married to an unhappy Paltrow who is happily cheating on him with Mortensen, uses his street smarts to figure out what's going on and then blackmails Mortensen to off wifey for him. The point in this film is not the story itself; rather, it is about style and the way in which it is presented. A PERFECT MURDER scores big on all counts. Michael Douglas is the main soldifying force in this film--it is impossible to think of an actor better suited for the erotic thriller sub-genre than he is; after all, he starred in the film that defined the erotic thriller, FATAL ATTRACTION. Add A PERFECT MURDER to the list. Andrew Davis, you directed a very competent film with this outing. Viggo Mortensen, with your determination, hard work and those now-famous cheekbones, you've finally left your Leatherface days behind for good. Gwyneth Paltrow, we can't stop watching you. Michael Douglas, well, we love to hate ya!HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"
A Perfect Murder
Ricky C. Nelson | Commerce, GA | 07/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Perfect Murder is a re-make of the Hitchcock film, "Dial M for Murder." Steven Taylor, played by Michael Douglas, pays David, an artist played by Viggo Montenson, to kill his wife Emily, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Emily and David are having a affair. The plan seems perfect, but is it? The murder is thwarted and the rules change. There is much suspense, and the plot contains several twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Douglas, Paltrow, and Mortenson do excellent jobs with their roles. The DVD contains commentary by the director and Michael Douglas. It also has an alternate ending that I don't think works as well as the one in the theatrical release. "A Perfect Murder" is a very good movie."