From the title alone, you already know what to expect from “Fatale,” a steamy, run-of-the-mill thriller from director Deon Taylor. It’s one of those B-movies where a cheating husband usually learns his lesson, but there aren’t enough twists or surprises to make this one stand out from the pack.
Successful Los Angeles sports agent Derrick (Michael Ealy) gets into trouble one night while visiting Las Vegas. He meets Val (Hilary Swank) at a club, and the two have a wild one night stand after strong encouragement from his friend and business partner Rafe (Mike Colter). Derrick’s path crosses with the woman after he returns home and reports a home invasion. The police detective assigned to his case turns out to be Valerie, because we all know what a tiny little city L.A. is.
The movie is far-fetched already, but the plot gets even worse from this point. Val (of course) is a total psycho, and she resorts to murder to pull Derrick deeper into her trap. Her nefarious intentions don’t come with a clear motive and once it’s revealed, it’s not a very good one. The majority of the film is a twisted cat-and-mouse game between the two, and the characters make one bad decision after another, to the point it’s absolutely ridiculous. Val wants to ruin Derrick’s life so she can fix her own mistakes, and she’s not afraid to kill for what she wants.
For a supposed erotically-charged mystery, the film is quite unsexy. There’s an appropriate amount of violence and the usual “Fatal Attraction” clichés, but the major problem is that Val is not a good villain. Ely and Swank are fine in their roles, but it goes without saying that they don’t turn in Oscar-worthy performances. Neither gave me a reason to care about what happened to either of them.
“Fatale” could’ve been a decent, if unremarkable, movie to watch just because you enjoy the genre. Instead, the characters do so many stupid things that I didn’t care about any of it by the grand finale rolled around. Mindless thrillers are one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but this one is just too uninspired to recommend.