Kiss Of Death

Apart from its plot structure, there are scarcely any traces left of the Henry Hathaway noir thriller scripted by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer that this supposedly reprises; but even though it proceeds in fits and starts, it’s still a pretty good crime thriller on its own terms. Director Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female), a onetime French New Wave producer who’s done a better job of adapting to the Hollywood mainstream than any of his former colleagues, does an able job with Richard Price’s script about an ex-con (David Caruso) who gets pulled back into crime by both the mob and the police, the latter forcing him to become a police spy. The movie never quite discovers a style of its own, but it manages to tell a pretty good story about contemporary corruption inside the law as well as outside, and even if Nicolas Cage’s edgy portrait of a psycho criminal can’t hold a candle to Richard Widmark’s in the original, the secondary castincluding Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci, Michael Rapaport, Ving Rhames, Helen Hunt, and Kathryn Erbedoes a nice job of filling out the canvas. (JR)

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