Judas Kiss (1998)
Director: Sebastian Gutierrez
Cast: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Carla Gugino
Synopsis: A woman and her lover, who has made a living by running sex scams at hotels, decide to enter the big time by kidnapping a computer company owner and demanding $4 million ransom.
Comedy-noir is something of a unique sub-genre, one which fuses together two genres that normally have no place in the same movie. It’s therefore quite a surprise that this typically noir-ish tale of greed, murder and deception works as well as it does. Carla Gugino provides the film’s focal point, playing Coco Chavez, a lush overtly sexual con woman in cahoots with Simon Baker’s Junior Armstrong. Normally involved in sex scams, the couple attempt a kidnapping of a high-profile Bill Gates type, with the aid of Ruben (Til Schweiger) and Lizard (Gil Bellows). However, an innocent woman, who just happens to be the wife of a ruthless senator (Hal Holbrook) is shot during the kidnap.
As well as the unusual mix of genres, Judas Kiss has one other major drawback that should prevent it from being successful, and that’s the casting of two British actors as a couple of New Orleans cops. And we’re not talking Jason Statham type Brits, here – we’re talking Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson: two prominent members of the UK luvvy brigade. Rickman plays a slovenly detective charged with finding the killers of the Senator’s wife, while Thompson is an equally scruffy FBI agent tasked with finding the kidnappers and their hostage. Both of them struggle with their accents, and are the weak link in an otherwise entertaining story.
The plot has some amusing twists that might seem a little far-fetched with the benefit of hindsight but, propelled at a breakneck speed, leaves the viewer with little time to pick up on the incongruities while the story is unfolding. Gugino is the hub around which the story revolves, and she proves herself more than capable, exuding an earthy sexuality while somehow managing to retain an aura of innocence about her that has the audience rooting for her throughout. A couple of loose ends are left untied at the final credits, but the film’s clear intention of providing fast-moving, uncomplicated entertainment should leave most viewers willing to cut it a little slack over any shortcomings.
(Reviewed 26th March 2012)