Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I was actually looking forward to this one a little bit. I had seen director Nick Vallelonga’s film ‘Disturbance’, and while we gotta admit the movie was deeply flawed we admired what Mr. Vallelonga was able to do with a limited budget and a ton of personal determination. This movie ‘Stilleto’ however was different because my man Nick was definitely working with a few more ducats than before plus he had a cast that includes boatload of recognizable to good actors who can certainly get a table at pretty much any restaurant they want in Beverly Hills I’m thinking. This being observed and recognizing that ‘Stiletto’ is a much more polished piece of work than ‘Disturbance’ it is still a deeply flawed piece of gritty entertainment.

Our film opens in one of those bath houses that mob types like to hang out with where we meet Greek mobster Virgil Vadalos (Tom Berenger) hearing from Mexican mobster Ernesto (Efrain Figueroa) how things are gonna be. Next thing we know Ernesto is getting his throat slit by our super angry Russian anti-heroine in the movie Raina (Stana Katic) who apparently is a former love of Virgil, though there was little love involved when she plunges her dagger into Virg’s most prominent gut.

Why did the leggy Russian beauty do this terrible thing? Well, that’s complicated but Virgil, who survived the attack, needs to have Raina delivered to him and for this task he calls on crack LAPD cop Beck (Paul Sloan), who is forever in his debt, to accomplish this for him. Simple enough but Raina is on one crazy ass killing spree taking out people left and right for no discernible reason. Beck’s crazy hot partner Detective Hanover (Kelly Hu) knows that Beck is hiding something from her about these murders that the pair is investigation and plans to get to the bottom of it.

In between Raina killing people and Beck trying to find her, we have a host of things going on such as Virgil’s slimy right hand man and blood cousin Alex (William Forsythe) up to no good, Virgil’s former right hand man, the extremely hostile and violent Lee (Michael Beihn), trying to prove that he belongs back in good graces, there’s a group of super angry skinheads lead by some dude named Englehart (James Russo) who is super pissed off about something and not to mention the hip hopping white guy calling himself Large Bills (Tom Sizemore?) who also is connected to this whole thing. Whatever this thing is. Meanwhile Raina is still on her spree with her ultimate goal being to finish the job she started on Virgil with only one stone faced cop standing in the way of quite possibly the world’s most dangerous and freakishly strong supermodel.

This is a bit of spoiler but the supermodel actually kills somebody by jamming a tire iron up through the characters jaw which emerges through their skull. Jason Vorhees saw that and said ‘dammmmmm…. You one bad bitch’. There are problems with ‘Stiletto’ with the major one being that this is a story in service to way too many characters and too much ‘stuff’. It’s almost as if the casting director showed up and said ‘hey, we got D.B. Sweeny, can you squeeze him in somewhere?’ Or ‘Dude, we got Tom Freaking Sizemore… gotta spot for him?’ I’m not going to be the one to tell Tom Sizemore he can’t be in my movie but there are just so many characters in this movie and not nearly enough of Paul Sloan’s script to support them all. Because of all of these different characters floating in and out and their various back stories, it prevents ‘Stiletto’ from getting any kind of rhythmic flow in the narrative as we’re constantly jumping around dealing with murderous supermodels, melodramatic house wives, pregnant girls, stolen loot, loony British chicks, crazy Mexican mobsters – one of which included former boxing champ Fernando Vargas, and cops having sex at wildly inopportune times… though I gotta admit Mr. Sloan, I would’ve wrote that one in too if I knew before hand my cop partner was going to be played by Kelly Hu.

There were large chunks of the story that didn’t make a whole lot of sense with the occasional gaping plot hole to deal with and for a 115 pound former crack head, Raina sure was plenty badass. I mean for real. I also gotta question three unarmed Skinheads who walk into a rough n’ tuff club deep in the hood, drop the N-word repeatedly and then walk out even tougher than they were when they walked in. I wouldn’t suggest anybody seriously try this in reality. Just a suggestion. And nothing about Tom Berenger says ‘Greek’. And don’t get us started with Mr. Sizemore as Puff Daddy.

Still, at no point would I call ‘Stiletto’ boring or un-entertaining because it did move rather swiftly from its various plot points and you did stay tuned in to find out the reasons why Raina was killing everybody, even though again, it doesn’t take much to poke a hole or two into why she was doing what she was doing. But the acting talent was high, particularly from Forsythe and especially Michael Biehn who took over-the-top to glorious heights rarely seen.

No, I can’t say that ‘Stiletto’ is a good movie because it’s way to scattershot and inconsistent in its narrative and in its attempt to service it’s massive cast, but it is at least watchable and probably would’ve been very good with just little more focus on way fewer characters.

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