I'm an huge Brian De Palma fan but that doesn't in my opinion mean that he can just get away with everything. "Femme Fatale" is definitely style over substance but is just style enough to save this movie? Absolutely not.
Biggest problem with this movie is the script. It's unnecessary difficult to follow at times, including the ending. On top of that the story just isn't interesting enough. Also the main character is an huge failure. I'm not blaming ex-model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos her acting skills for this, I simply blame it on the script. Her character never becomes accessible or interesting and remains difficult to understand and follow throughout the movie. Antonio Banderas is simply miscast, the role simply doesn't fit him. Thankfully there also are some well casted parts in the movie. Peter Coyote is always good in a movie. It was also great to see Gregg Henry in a De Palma movie again, even though his role in this movie was quite pointless. Another strong piece of casting was the beautiful Rie Rasmussen who in her small role perhaps leaves the biggest impression of the entire movie.
It may sound weird but I still enjoy watching this movie, despite me rating it poorly. Like I said before I'm simply a big De Palma fan so there still is plenty to enjoy for me here. The beginning of the movie, 'the Cannes festival heist' is extremely good and memorable and has De Palma his style written all over it. De Palma can build the tension in a movie like no other director can, even though the whole sequences reminded a bit too much of the other De Palma movie "Mission:Impossible". To be honest De Palma never has been the most original director in the business but the scenes are simply always constructed so well and are so highly memorable that you'll always forgive him for not being terribly original.
However in this case style alone is not good enough to save this movie. The movie leaves a messy, confusing impression afterward, which is simply due to the poor written story that 'tries too hard to be difficult' at times.
For De Palma fans it simply still remains a must see but everyone else can better skip this one, or should stop watching after the 'Cannes' opening sequence.
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