[box cover]

3-Way

As contemporary film noir-inspired caper movies go, 3-Way is certainly not as aggressively terrible as many of its cynical peers, but this is largely because the movie never tries to mimic the quirky humor that Quentin Tarantino used when he skillfully revived the genre in the 1990s. No, 3-Way is a strictly dour thriller with no frills, save the obligatory twists and turns, making its lack of quality unobtrusive and easy to tolerate. In fact, the movie is so low-maintenance that even its supposedly steamy sex scenes lack any sense of spirit, or danger, or fun. Based on the pulp novel Wild to Possess by Gil Brewer, the picture stars Dominic Purcell as Lew, a haunted sign-painter with a troubled past, living under the radar near Santa Barbara when he overhears two lovers discussing a kidnapping plot during an off-road tryst. Eager to make enough money to escape with his girlfriend (Joy Bryant), Lew figures he can make a cool million by subverting the abduction and holding the criminals' ambitions for ransom. A little (very little) detective work leads him to Isobel (Ali Larter), the sexy, scheming mistress to the shiftless idiot husband of a bitchy heiress (Gina Gershon). Lew pegs her as the brains of the operation, but his own shady past begins to catch up with him in the form of a mysterious thug (Dwight Yoakam), whose malevolent presence threatens to derail Lew's convoluted scheme. Director Scott Ziehl has an almost adequate sense of style (the editing in the opening scene, however, makes it a little tough to follow), but he fails to infuse any energy into the movie, and while Purcell has a decent leading man appearance, he is a terrible bore as an actor and balks at engaging the audience with the desperation required of noir anti-heroes. Larter, playing a sociopathic slut, loses the innocent sexiness that made her stand out in Varsity Blues, and she offers too little else as a performer (she sort of looks stoned during most of the movie). Meanwhile, fans of Gershon will be disappointed that her role is relatively minor and features no nudity or kinky sex, which have become her calling cards. Critics who hailed country star Yoakam's acting skills in Billy Bob Thornton's 1996 Sling Blade may want to reconsider their praise after this sad endeavor. Columbia TriStar presents 3-Way in a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There are no extras, but there are subtitle tracks in eight languages. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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