31 January 2006 | vchimpanzee
Not my taste, but well done
While magician Nix entertains his young audience by holding fire and even juggling it, Philip Swann and others are rescuing young Dorothea, who has been kidnapped and is being held in the same building. In the process of getting the girl out, Nix is killed--or is he? 13 years later, New York private detective Harry D'Amour is hired to go to Los Angeles to work on an insurance fraud case. He visits a fortune teller and is shocked to see a man dying violently. There may be a connection between this death and Swann, who is now married to Dorothea.
Valentin works for Swann and wants D'Amour to meet with Dorothea, who wants D'Amour to work for him (and also looks good in a swimsuit). D'Amour goes to one of Swann's shows, where one of the illusions doesn't go as planned. This gives Swann something to investigate. An interesting investigation follows.
My primary motive for watching this movie was seeing Scott Bakula, who I liked in 'Quantum Leap'. D'Amour is intelligent and a smart-aleck, sometimes funny, with just the right mix of confidence and vulnerability; he did not disappoint. Had I judged the movie from just its first 10 minutes, to paraphrase a line spoken by one of Dorothea's rescuers, I would have said bury this thing deep where it can never again be found. The same applies to the horrifying, graphically violent ending. And there is plenty of blood and gore in between the opening and the final scenes. I'm pretty sure the language was cleaned up for UPN as well--who actually would say 'Forget you' in a theatrical film? Sometimes the audio didn't sound right in situations where profanity would be expected.
The movie had redeeming qualities, though. Kevin O'Connor showed confidence onstage but often seemed afraid or nervous otherwise--I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and call that good acting. Vincent Schiavelli had a brief but effective scene as an illusionist in a meeting with others practicing the profession. Joel Swetow was good as Valentin.
Although they were not what I would call entertaining, I would say the visual effects were quality work. Certainly the gore factor was quite high, but someone did an impressive job with what is called morphing.
And Daniel von Bargen did an outstanding job as the very frightening Nix. I did not like the character at all, but one has to be impressed with the talent shown.