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Deon Taylor
Michael Ealy, Hilary Swank, Mike Colter
Writing Credits:
David Loughery

After a one-night stand, a successful married man finds himself entangled in a cunning police detective's latest investigation.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/2/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Deon Taylor and Producer Roxanne Avent Taylor
• “Making Fatale” Featurette
• “The Right Direction” Featurette
• “Find the Killer Look” Featurette
• Alternate Ending


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Fatale [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 7, 2021)

Normally December 18 would become a release date for a big blockbuster or a family film intended to appeal to family audiences. An “R”-rated sex thriller makes no sense for that slot.

However, given that nothing followed logical patterns in 2020, Lionsgate probably figured “why not?” and put out Fatale on that date. The film earned little money, but neither did most other flicks in the COVID-19 pandemic landscape, so it becomes tough to judge whether or not the studio made the right call.

After seven years with wife Tracie (Damaris Lewis), wealthy sports agent Derrick Tyler (Michael Ealy) finds the relationship drifting. He also suspects Tracie’s late-night “client meetings” may not be what she claims.

When Derrick goes to Vegas for a bachelor party, he hooks up with Val Quinlan (Hilary Swank). He figures what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and heads home without too many worries.

However, matters take a major turn when Derrick fights off a home invasion and finds that Detective Val Quinlan acts as the main officer on the case. With this undesired reunion at hand, Derrick needs to contend with a slew of challenges.

While a slew of films fall into the “vengeful wronged lover” category, I suspect 1987’s mega-hit Fatal Attraction remains the most famous example. Though not a slavish copy of that flick, Fatale definitely takes a lot of inspiration from it.

As the review linked above indicates, Attraction doesn’t really work for me, but it looks like a classic compared to the illogical and absurd Fatale. Even within the genre’s often ridiculous confines, it prompts too much eye-rolling.

At the core, the basic premise doesn’t make a ton of sense, as it never seems clear why Val holds such a grudge. Val tells Derrick that she holds a high-stress job and she takes the occasional Vegas trip to unwind.

This means we should view her one night stand with Derrick as par for her course. I would think. Val’s own comments imply that she behaves this way on a regular basis.

Although Derrick lies to her about his name and marital status, it still doesn’t come across as logical that she would feel hurt by his “love ‘em and leave ‘em “ approach since that was part of their bargain.

Nonetheless, Fatale attempts to paint Val as the Woman Wronged – sort of. In truth, this part of the story feels superfluous, as the film pursues it when the story finds it necessary but it makes so little sense that the movie doesn’t indulge in it heavily.

That plot theme really does seem unnecessary since the movie gives us enough reason to push the tale down a Strangers On A Train path. We get threads that imply Val and Derrick both have their own complications and they could take care of the others’ problems, so there seems to be no need to muddy the waters with the tedious Woman Wronged notion.

Maybe if other aspects of Fatale connected, I wouldn’t mind the plot issues. Unfortunately, it offers a thriller with no thrills.

For a movie of this sort to succeed, we need to invest in the characters and care about their well-being. We need to fret for Derrick to develop tension.

We never do. Ealy seems to specialize in these sorts of “rich handsome dude who deals with psychos” parts nowadays, and he appears bored by the underwritten Derrick. Ealy mainly mopes through the movie and never manages to find a reason to make us care about his role.

Swank does okay as Val, though I admit I feel bad for her. A double Oscar winner shouldn’t be stuck in “B”-level nonsense like Fatale, so rather than add class to the proceedings, her presence just depresses me. She’s simply too talented to be mired in such a weak movie.

At the core, this sort of genre thriller can work, but Fatale doesn’t. At no point does it develop drama or tension, so we end up stuck with a slow, predictable 102 minutes.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Fatale appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a strong presentation.

Overall, sharpness seemed very good. Only minor softness materialized during some interiors, so the film largely appeared accurate and concise.

Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t mar the presentation, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of palette, Fatale went with a fairly teal orientation. A lot of amber/orange appeared as well, and we found splashes of other hues on occasion. Within stylistic choices, the hues seemed well-depicted.

Blacks were dark and dense, and low-light shots gave us good clarity. I felt pleased with this solid transfer.

Similar thoughts greeted the fairly good DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Fatale, as the soundfield mostly delivered a mix heavy on atmosphere. Environmental noises cropped up in the side and rear speakers, and a few action moments added to the track. Those elements created a nice sense of place and added impact to the material.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and music appeared robust and full.

Effects were accurate and dynamic, while low-end response showed good warmth and richness. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio merited a “B”.

A few extras appear here, and we open with an audio commentary from director Deon Taylor and producer Roxanne Avent Taylor. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, visual design and photography, music, costumes, cut scenes and alternate endings.

Though it dispenses with a decent number of details, much of the commentary seems dull. In particular, Deon Taylor tends to simply narrate the movie. This becomes a mediocre chat.

Three featurettes follow, and Making Fatale lasts nine minutes, 52 seconds. It includes notes from Deon Taylor, Roxanne Taylor, and actors Michael Ealy, Damaris Lewis, Mike Colter, and Geoffrey Owens.

“Making” examines casting, characters and performances. We get a couple of decent thoughts but most of “Making” remains superficial.

The Right Direction goes for six minutes, two seconds and involves Deon Taylor, Colter, Ealy, Owens, and Lewis. They tell us what a great director Taylor is in this largely insight-free reel.

Finally, Find the Killer Look spans six minutes, 59 seconds and brings remarks from Deon Taylor, Roxanne Taylor, Ealy, Colter, Lewis and cinematographer Dante Spinotti. “Looks” discusses the movie’s photography, though like the other featurettes, it focuses more on praise than filmmaking details.

An Alternate Ending runs one minute, 42 seconds. It gives the finale a much more sinister tone. Given how bland and safe the released movie seems, I wish they’d gone with this more daring ending.

A trite, by the numbers sex thriller, Fatale offers little to make it work. The film follows every predictable beat imaginable and lacks creativity. The Blu-ray offers appealing picture and audio with a decent collection of bonus materials. This turns into a forgettable thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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