Betrayal (2003)

A small-scale DTV thriller with a workable premise, but by-the-numbers twistery. Julie Du Rage, a French-accented hit woman who specialises in getting close to her victims by flaunting her body in designer underwear, double-crosses her boss and takes off with a suitcase containing a million dollars. Erika Eleniak, a harrassed divorced Mom with mortgage problems, needs to get out of town with her teenage son (Jeremy Lelliott) since he's foolishly botched a drugs delivery he undertook to help with the household expenses and has got the house shot up by an angry dealer. At the railway station, Eleniak's card is refused and Du Rage offers to pay travel expenses if Mom and son drive her to Texas, making a lame excuse about a dying sister but hoping to hook up with a confederate (James Remar). On the road, the contrasted women argue and bond and clash a bit over the son - whose stupid streak continues when he finds Julie's cash and takes off with it, just as killers catch up with Du Rage at a motel.

There's a sort of Face/Off relationship between the women, with Du Rage using her looks to get ahead and spouting cynical man-hating toughisms even as Eleniak continues to act like a doormat - and, in a barely-expressed irony, it's only by becoming like her opponent can Eleniak defeat her in the final face-off, which finds the hit woman impaled on some junk and is-he-or-is-he-not-a-crook Remar revealed as a straight arrow, vengeance-seeking fed. It might have worked better if it stuck to the road movie stuff rather than hauling in a succession of hoods to shoot it up, since the DTV-style actresses are okay in their roles; and surely Eleniak should have undergone a drab-to-glam transformation to match a villainness who tries to skip town unobtrusively while wearing a flimsy red dress that would stick in the mind of every witness forever. Directed by Mark L. Lester.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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