1992 Directed by Jonathan Kaplan. Starring Kurt Russell, Ray Liotta, Madeleine Stowe, Roger E. Mosley.
REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., July 3, 1992
I guess I'm of the school of film-goer who greets each image of a perfect family and says, “oh yeah, these people gotta die.” It's not healthy but there you are. Certainly, I'm not alone and certainly films like Unlawful Entry are made for us. This particular perfect couple, Russell and Stowe find their idyllic lives threatened when an intruder breaks into their home. Not then, but when they call the cops. You know, when you first open the front door and Ray Liotta's there with a gun strapped on, it's time to say “uh oh.” Liotta, you will remember is the dangerously unstable guy in GoodFellas and Something Wild. Once this bad cop decides that Stowe would be happier with him than with her husband, he sets out to systematically ruin Russell. There's no problem with the tension this movie generates, it's high but it's also relentless and impatience sets in. This crazy cop is driving around with a partner (played with admirable one-dimensionality), all day, every day for seven or so years, so how come his partner doesn't realize something's up? It's also irritating that, in order for this to work, the wife has to be incredibly stupid, which she obligingly is. Shot with much of the same POV camera angles as used in Kaplan's film The Accused, it's easy to think that the director is having a little too much fun watching his female character get roughed up. There's not really much new here except it's so fascinating to watch Liotta be a crazy guy. He gives this character a weird little inappropriate laugh that really identifies him as a fruitcake. Russell and Stowe are simply the straight men (so to speak). They're given just a straw representation of a perfect life that is easily threatened and easily blown down by Liotta's big bad wolf. What's really frightening, suggests Unlawful Entry, is that our domestic tranquility, our stability is so completely vulnerable to any threat from the outside. Oddly enough, Unlawful Entry can keep you from sleeping but when you wake up the next moring, it's hard to remember much about the movie.