Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

What exactly do you call a ‘Thriller’ genre of film without any thrills? What genre would that movie be now? I guess that question would apply to any movie that comes up considerably short in its genre attempt. A comediless comedy, a horrorless horror, a dramaless drama. Today’s entry into the ‘come up short’ genre is the thrilless thriller ‘Troubled Waters’ which also goes through trouble of tossing in a supernatural twist for good measure.

‘Troubled Waters’ starts a bit peculiarly with the opening scene showing FBI agents rushing in on a house where two major characters in our film are found dead. This gives away quite a bit of our mystery right off the bat as the movie drags on. Regardless, Mike Waters (David Storch) is a hard working owner of a software company on the verge of going public and is on his way to New York to close the deal, but his wife Julia (Shauna Black) is one of those bitchy movie wives who doesn’t appreciate any of this hard work and pretty much hates the dude. They also have a beautiful five year old daughter Megan (Olivia Ballantyne) who will be snatched from her bed in the dead of a night by an unknown kidnapper.

On the case is Special Agent Beck (Jennifer Beals) who through some extremely vague information we are given, which seems to involve her getting shot in the head with a shotgun a few months back, has acquired some kind of psychic ability where she touches items and sees vivid flashbacks of information relating to whatever case she happens to be on. For instance by touching the doorknob of the house, she is able to see that wife Julia is having an affair with Mike’s business partner Ben (Stuart Hughes), even though it makes her head hurt like hell. Of course regular old everyday police work probably could have figured that out easily enough too, but I guess if you have a

psychic on staff cops just get plain lazy. 'You know I was about to run these prints, but hey bitch, come over here a touch this phone'. Anyway this kidnapping is strange in that there doesn’t seem to be any ransom demands and regular FBI procedure is turning up next to nothing. Then all kinds of evidence just falls into place, mostly thanks to our psychic detective and a suspect is found, characters that need to die end up dead, and of course we have our ‘Big Twist’.

‘Troubled Waters’, despite its relatively brief running time (thank goodness) moved at such a lazy, leisurely pace that sometimes it seemed as it the film were going backwards. Since Agent Beck wasn't following any known kind of FBI procedure, as so painstakingly told to us over and over again by one Agent Tina (Sharon Lewis), there was no procedural interest there and for the most part we were stuck waiting for Agent Beck to touch something in between scenes of her looking mighty pissed off. The whole psychic thing was basically a very tired gimmick since her touching stuff didn’t really reveal anything that, again, average old everyday police work wouldn’t have turned up eventually. Besides the whole ‘mystery’ was pretty much null and void since the big twist at the end they were building up so hard for, was wasted in the fact the filmmakers practically painted by numbers for us all of the elements involved in the ‘Big Twist’ in the first place. There were also quite a few unresolved plot holes they never bothered to close or resolve either, but it probably would have just added to the running time.

Another thing that just a tiny bit disconcerting was that I guess this was supposed to be taking place in the good ol’ U.S.A., but everybody in the film and the locations were so obviously Canadian I don’t know why they just didn’t set the damn thing in Canada. Jennifer Beals is still a toasty number at 44, but her character in this thing lacked any kind of layers of depth, just walked around for the duration of the film looking grim and upset. Director John Stead pointed out for us in the DVD behind the scenes that they were given all of about three weeks to shoot this thing and it looked like it was shot in High Def as opposed to film, and even though I think High Def is a killer format for film, this print had a Cinemax late night sex sheen to it, with that almost video, almost film look that those films had but then dude was in a rush and heaven forbid he did anything to add to the running time, and for that I’m grateful.

‘Troubled Waters’ was a fairly lame affair that wasn’t a complete failure as a film, but fell just below the Mendoza line in practically every conceivable category, so that there’s almost nothing to warrant anybody taking the time to watch it.

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