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Unlawful Entry Reviews

UNLAWFUL ENTRY is a paint-by-numbers suspense thriller redeemed by stylish, economic direction and a marvelous performance by Ray Liotta as a psycho L.A. cop. Liotta plays Pete Davis, an officer who answers a call from Michael (Kurt Russell) and Karen Carr (Madeleine Stowe) after an intruder has broken into their house and threatened the young entrepreneur's wife. Pete at first comes across like something from an L.A.P.D. public relations video. Considerate and sympathetic, he befriends the couple, helping them arrange the installation of a home alarm system and even inviting Michael to ride along with him and his partner on their next patrol. Michael accepts, but his yuppie distaste for the female company the cops keep and the fast food they eat soon escalates into something more dramatic. The evening ends with a staged capture of the intruder who had threatened Karen, laid on so that Michael can make good on an earlier, carelessly stated wish to "kick the sh... out of the guy." Faced with the reality of the situation, Michael declines, then watches in horror as Pete administers a vicious beating. (This is where the P.R. video stops, and another comes sickeningly to mind.) From there on things get increasingly difficult for the young couple, as it becomes clear that Pete is a cop from hell, not heaven, bent on destroying Michael's life and claiming Karen for his own. Director Jonathan Kaplan (THE ACCUSED) does an accomplished job of building the tension throughout UNLAWFUL ENTRY, providing some genuinely hair-raising moments and making the most of the ambiguous relations between Pete and an initially sympathetic Karen. The acting is consistently good, with Liotta, in particular, creating a masterful portrait of implacable, blue-eyed terror--a man equally at ease explaining his vocation to a class of schoolkids ("I'm here to be your friend") as staging a cold-blooded murder. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.