Perfect Stranger is far from perfect, and this is yet another classic example of the marketers taking the source material, and letting their own imagination run wild to get bums on seats. Bruce Willis in a seedy role, and Halle Berry oozing sex appeal with assets spilling out of her dress? That's what the trailers would have led us to believe, that the movie's a classical sexy thriller, but the movie is many miles away, southwards in direction.
Halle Berry plays Rowena Price, one of those journalist for gossipy magazines, or if you prefer to upmarket her profession, an investigating journalist who digs the lowdown on the bigwigs and unveils the skeletons in their closet. A friend is found murdered, but not before giving her leads that her potential murderer could be Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), New York's top advertising executive, with a penchant for kinky online sex, having spend most of his free time when he's not running the business, in chatrooms, and wining and dining fast ladies for the real thing.
So it's up to Rowena to hike her skirt and plunge her neckline to get into Hill's agency to dig for dirt, and naturally to engage in a little naughty online experience with Hill's virtual persona. Add in a jealous assistant in Miles Haley (Giovanni Ribisi), we get quite a threesome relationship tussle going on, with plenty of sexual innuendos and meanings between lines.
But herein lies the problem. In trying to cramp too much into too little time, and having a schizophrenic demeanour in its narrative, Perfect Stranger tries just too damn hard to be too smart with its twists and about turns, and ended up with so many cliches (the horny husband, the rich and beautiful wife, the tech savvy friend, etc) and boring moments, that you can see things coming way before they actually happen. Willis becomes too smug as he sleepwalks through his role, nothing too unfamiliar given previous experience in films like Color of Night (opposite Jane March, who faded into obscurity), and Berry offers nothing more than what we've already *ahem* seen in her earlier works, ever since Swordfish provided that eye-opening experience. Everything in the movie follows a plot which is a tad too convenient, and having had shot 3 different endings for the movie, tells you a lot about how they treated the material. What could have been engaging, or intriguing, turns out to be a yawn.
Perfect Stranger suffered from the shall-we-end-here-or-later syndrome, anti-climaxing the plot with a pathetic whimper, and couldn't decide just when to pull the plug, plunging it deeper and deeper into the realm of the ridiculous. Touted as provocative, and highlighted the potential dangers of online chats with identities anonymous and anyone could feign to be somebody else, in actuality Perfect Stranger was very tame and unsexy. What made it worse here is for the distributor to submit an edited version of it in attempts to get more people into the theatres. They really should have left it uncut, and gotten a higher rating.
There are other better movies out there worth your time and money, so you can safely give Perfect Stranger the perfect parting gift - the skip.