Review: Dim-witted 'Fatale' beneath the talents of star Swank

Hilary Swank produces and stars in thriller that belongs on basic cable

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Hilary Swank — two-time Academy Award-winner for Best Actress Hilary Swank, that is — has no business starring in "Fatale," an utterly dopey, by-the-numbers thriller that wouldn't be out of place airing as a Lifetime network original. 

That Swank is in this stink bomb is cause enough for alarm. That she also produced it is grounds for a career wellness check. 

Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy in "Fatale."

Swank stars opposite Michael Ealy. He's Derrick Tyler, a high profile sports agent in Los Angeles, and she's Valerie Quinlan, whom he meets at a bar and cheats on his wife with while attending a buddy's bachelor party in Las Vegas. They go their separate ways but meet up again when Derrick is the victim of a home invasion back in L.A. Enter Valerie, the lead detective assigned to the case. Whoopsie. 

That's only the beginning of the whoopsies in the plot. Rather than making Valerie a strong, confident woman who goes after who and what she wants, she's instead molded into a standard issue psycho to fit the story's genre conventions. Additionally, if you were to guess that "Fatale" is one of those thrillers where the bad guy spells out their entire plan for anyone within earshot who may happen to be recording them, then you'd be one step ahead of David Loughery's script, which makes its villain repeat the plan twice before tape starts rolling.

"Fatale" gets more ludicrous as its body count rises, with each death taking it further from the realm of believability. Swank, who earlier this year starred in the slapdash would-be sociopolitical commentary "The Hunt" and later in Netflix's canceled space drama "Away," has had a rough 2020, and "Fatale" marks her low point. Here's to hoping 2021 has better things in store for her. 



Rated R: for violence, sexual content and language

Running time: 102 minutes

Opens Friday at Ford-Wyoming Drive-In