The new direct-to-DVD feature The River Murders stars Ray Liotta as Jack Verdon, a homicide detective whose ex-girlfriends are turning up murdered. Pegged as a suspect and prohibited from working the case by FBI agent Vuckovitch (Christian Slater), Jack nonetheless tries to piece things together. The central plot twist turns out to be fairly surprising, but would work better if it made more sense. The River Murders isn’t exactly a brainy thriller, but it’s watchable.
Adding to the marquee value, Ving Rhames has a small role as Jack’s police captain. Neither Rhames nor Slater play very big parts, but their names will likely help raise interest in this generally unremarkable fare. Liotta has played this kind of role before; one gets the feeling he is phoning in his standard “grizzled cop” performance. Liotta gets to seethe and brood as the accusations against Jack increase. As the feds dig deeper into Jack Verdon’s past, a history of promiscuity is revealed. This leaves quite a few women in potential danger once it becomes clear that the killer is tracking them down one at a time. This leaves Jack’s wife Ana (Gisele Fraga, in her English language debut) especially vulnerable.
Originally entitled The River Sorrow, revealed in the DVD’s brief making-of featurette, The Review Murders is eminently forgettable. And despite the presence of some attractive actresses, don’t rent it hoping for copious amounts of T&A. The only “graphic nudity” (as the R rating specifically indicates) ends up being shots of rotten female corpses. Of course, the special features contain plenty of talk about the “brilliance” of Steve Anderson’s screenplay and all the performances. In addition to the featurette, there are two audio commentaries. One features the director Rich Cowan, accompanied by a pair of crew members. The second features Anderson accompanied by some of the cast.
I like Liotta, Slater, and Rhames, but I find it hard to believe they aren’t being offered better material than this. Sure, these guys haven’t been top draws at the box office lately (if any of them really ever were). But they all have A-list credentials and deserve to be in movies less generic than The River Murders.