This film's slow-as-molasses protagonist should have thought twice before accepting the FBI's offer of a reduced jail stretch for betraying a former cellmate. Denied the company of women for so long, the first thing he does is hit on the live-in love of the pathologically jealous ex-con
he's setting up.
FBI Investigator Oscar Pierce (Billy Dee Williams) has little luck getting the goods on recidivist thief Jimmy Ray (Patrick Bergin), who guns down anyone who so much as winks at main squeeze Julia (Ashley Laurence) and who smirks after beating Oscar in an alley. Weary of playing penitentiary
chess, Teddy (Michael Pare) can't resist vengeful Oscar's offer to let his 20-year jail time evaporate in exchange for regaining the confidence of Jimmy Ray, whom Teddy once saved from prison rape.
Insinuating himself into his host's good graces, Teddy outlines a jewelry heist that has been carefully buttressed by the Bureau's police connections in Kansas City. Against Oscar's advice, Teddy quickly samples the lovely poison known as Julia and compromises his own safety in trapping his pigeon
with Oscar's sure-fire scheme.
Blowing hot and cold, unbalanced Julia eventually blabs that Teddy is an FBI stoolie, but Jimmy Ray plays along to get to the gems. Sensing Julia's shifting loyalty, Teddy knocks out his accomplice before Jimmy Ray can kill him and exits with the glittering haul.
Jimmy Ray is captured and, initially, Oscar forces him to help trace the merchandise. Of course, Jimmy Ray eventually tries to kill Oscar, who fortunately is outfitted with a bulletproof vest.
As it turns out, Oscar counted on Jimmy Ray tracking down Teddy through Julia, a former FBI informant who previously slept with Oscar before defecting to the criminal arms of Jimmy Ray. When an enraged Jimmy Ray pumps lead into Teddy (also conveniently protected), Oscar polishes off his quarry and
retrieves the boodle. Adhering to Oscar's plan, which led Julia to believe him dead, Teddy is free to enjoy a new life.
Pare and Bergin are old hands at playing pawns of passion, so this rambunctious crimefest gives the audience an excuse to stay in their seats--but no reason to sit on their edges. Julia and Teddy seem less imperiled by their destructive romance than by a script built around an indecisive game of
musical beds. After a while, the FBI's immoral expediency grows as uninvolving as the clandestine trysts happening under Jimmy Ray's nose.
Twisting itself into a pretzel of cross-purposes, TRIPLECROSS turns out to be just one more neo-noir house of cards knocked down by heavy breathing. Erotic thriller fans can either accept the characters' wavering desires, or wonder if the FBI actually considers such shenanigans as a valid
part-time job. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, sexual situations.)
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