Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve joined a film somewhere in the middle? That’s how I almost immediately felt about Stiletto. I even went back to the menu to be sure I wasn’t starting the film in progress. No such luck. The script drops you in the middle of these characters’ adventure so that by the time you understand what’s going on, you’ve long given up caring. That means the only other thing you might have gotten this film for is to see some full on kick butt chick action. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really deliver on that either.
Raina (Katic) was a mobster’s girl. Now she’s out for revenge on the entire organization for a particularly brutal act. One by one she’s taking the crew down, but she fails to kill Virgil (Berenger), the leader of the gang. He survives and decides to send his crooked cop, Beck (Sloan) to stop her before she tries to kill him again. It’s a basic cat and mouse game as she continues to “Raina” down on his gang. Alex (Forsythe) has taken the lady into her confidence, but is just using her himself. No doubt that Stana Katic looks pretty good as she methodically kills her enemies, but there’s really no flair to the performance. She was much better in the latest Bond film. I never saw the hatred and emotion that caused these acts in the first place. She’s pretty matter of fact as she goes about the slayings. The events themselves look staged and never deliver on the promised thrills. William Forsythe looks like the scumbag his character is, but I get the feeling that’s just Forsythe. He’s become quite a clichéd character actor, and we’ve seen him like this a hundred times before. Tom Berenger’s face looks like they puffed it out with prosthetics. At least, I hope it’s makeup. Otherwise, dude’s gotten ugly. He either can’t or refuses to emote more than one emotion the entire picture. Don’t even get me started on the gang that calls itself “Nazis For Jesus”. No one in this cast sets the film on fire. What you end up with are countless action sequences that never seem to get your heart racing. Before long I found myself too catatonic to even turn the thing off.
The killings are so over the top they belong in a cheap slasher film. The cast couldn’t be less interesting if they tried. All you’re left with is some crazy revenge story with no passion. I’ve heard that revenge is a dish best served cold, but this film scores an absolute zero.
Stiletto is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. With no extras on this disc, I’m at a loss to explain the terrible bit rate. The film quite often clocks in at under 4.5 mbps. There’s just no reason for it. Compression artifact is often off the charts. Colors are incredibly soft. About the only real standout is a red dress Raina wears at one point. The color somehow shines through the grimy image. Black levels and contrast are both weak.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is used pretty uninteresting as well. It all happens pretty much up front. Dialog is fair.
Trust me, this direct to video film is a total waste of time. If you really want to see some chicks kick butt, check out Kate Beckensale in the first two Underworld films or Jennifer Garner in Alias or Elektra. There are at least a dozen or more better films in this genre. You won’t get enough of whatever the heck you’re looking for in this dreary piece of you know what. Director Nick Vallelonga shows no imagination at all; in the end he figured all he needed to do was make Raina look hot. He shouldn’t be directing movies. “This guy should be picking out uniforms for cocktail waitresses.”