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Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Retro Review: Motives (2004)

Cast: Vivica A. Fox, Shemar Moore, Golden Brooks, Sean Blakemore, Victoria Rowell, Keisha Knight Pulliam, Mel Jackson
Genre: Direct-to-Video Erotic Thriller

Plot: A highly successful business tycoon is married to his ideal wife. Things get twisted when he has an adulterous affair

'Black Fatal Attraction, & Still (& Surprisingly) Not Bad' 

Emery Simms is an ostentatious businessman who owns and runs a restaurant business under his belt. Simms is married to Constance and the pairing's marriage seems to be going well. Until he goes astray and has an extramarital affair with a free-spirited woman in Allanah. After their one-night-affair, Emery chooses to break things off with Allanah, but she tries to make his life miserable, with the affair coming back to haunt him. Constance is completely unaware of her hubby's philandering until suspicion eventually seeps in. Emery is then implicated in and linked to several murders that do more than destroy his marriage and he becomes a prime suspect for two detectives to contend with. But is he as innocent as he claims to be? As events unfold, Simms tries to determine who to trust most. 

An urban Fatal Attraction, Motives' sales pitch was described as a hot and steamy flick, although its direct to DVD status meant its production values and at times slick camerawork obscures the erotic sex scenes, or be it the one sex scene, which in itself was underwhelming and unconvincing, making it less X-rated (there was barely any flesh to be seen) and was tamer by comparison. Despite faltering in this department, with its souped-up soap-opera-like antics, Motives has enough twists and turns in the story, which, but for say one, two performers is further boosted by the impressive turns by the cast. 

What I was pleasantly surprised by Motives is not only how watchable and engaging the story became as the film progressed, but the characters had some, though not so much depth (even if they were one dimensional) and the performances were rather impressive. It is so much like Fatal Attraction, plot-wise; but one thing Motives gets right over that film, besides the casting, is the story manages to dig a little deeper with each little twist and plot development and never strays from its premise and become an over-the-top silly farce. In Fox and Moore, they provide that little bit of semblance of theirs to make it more engaging and watchable. & though whilst Moore isn't one of the strongest actors, his turn was satisfying at most.  

Vivica A. Fox is a good actress - who in addition co-produced this effort-, yet when saddled with underdeveloped and poorly written characters and a screenplay to boot in some or most of her films, undermines her talents as such; in Motives, she does well and the same applies to Shemar Moore, who fares good also in the Michael Douglas-type role and in a way, his character came across as being a tad, if no more sympathetic than Michael Douglas's in Fatal Attraction. The Cosby Show's Keisha Knight Pullium, however, has little to do and say and Girlfriends' Golden Brooks was okay at best, but the material didn't do her performance many favours. Mel Jackson did all right also, although given the detectives were vital to the plot; though unfortunately, Jackson and Victoria Rowell's roles, despite their watchable turns, seemed undercooked and it was a pity more wasn't done by the writers to shoehorn them into the main plot. 

As far as the editing and the shots go, some of it was not very well done - again, the sex scene is one example - and it feels like the low budget version of an erotic thriller, but with fewer thrills and less lovemaking. 

The less than graphic and not so steamy sex scene between Shemar Moore and Golden Brooks should have used more heat; because of that also, it felt as if there wasn't much in the way of sensuality that could be dubbed as erotic porn. 

Final Verdict:

Whilst it may not be great as a film, as it could have done a little more to make it even better (fully fleshed out characters, more suspense, more sex scenes for a so-called erotic thriller), Motives is still worth seeing for fans of thrillers and as far as Black erotic thrillers and low budget thrillers in general go, this one is surprisingly decent. 


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