Murkily teasing when it could have been thought-provoking, PROBABLE CAUSE is one of those obfuscatory whodunits that works too hard trying to divert viewers away from what is a fairly obvious conclusion.
Facing harassment charges from his former female partner, sexist cop Gary Yanuck (Michael Ironside) walks on eggshells when he's assigned another female partner, rookie Lynn Reilly (Kate Vernon). The case they're on is a tough one: Not only is someone systematically murdering police officers,
someone else is working behind the scenes to cover up the reasons. Making things harder, especially in view of Yanuck's personal attitudes, is Reilly's tendency to faint helplessly at crime scenes. As more officers expire, both Yanuck's libido and his crime-detecting instincts are aroused
sufficiently to pry information out of Reilly's psychiatrist about her previous marriage. Reilly's ex-husband tells Yanuck that he suspected her of having an affair with Detective Parris (Larry Reese)--who becomes the cop killer's next victim.
Despite the efforts of misogynistic policeman John Sanchez (Kirk Baltz), Yanuck and Reilly discover a connective link among the victims: all were members of Reilly's police academy graduating class. Yanuck discovers that Reilly killed the dead cops during sleepwalking trances. During a showdown at
the academy's firing range, Sanchez grapples with Yanuck and manages to shoot Reilly while she is trying to stab Sanchez. As she dies, Reilly relives her trauma: While at school, fellow officers, including Sanchez, gang-raped her in the locker room. Yanuck stabs Sanchez to death, making it look
like Reilly's final act of retribution.
PROBABLE CAUSE's efforts to throw viewers off the scent are thoroughly transparent: Amateur sleuths will be ahead of Yanuck every step of the way. What adds some bite to this standard procedural melodrama is the thick air of hostility in the barracks and offices of a male-dominated force. As an
indictment of macho attitudes, PROBABLE CAUSE scores a bullseye in incorporating Reilly's defilement into its plot. But this subtext can't rescue a labyrinthine script that wastes too needlessly complicating factors the audience has already resolved. One must also question the necessity of that
graphic rape sequence at the climax. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, substance abuse, sexual situations.)
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