Christian Slater, Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames, and Sarah Ann Schultz in The River Murders (2011)


(director: Rich Cowan; screenwriter: Steve Anderson; cinematographer: Dan Heigh; editor: Jason A. Payne; music: Pinar Toprak; cast: Ray Liotta (Jack Verdon),Christian Slater (Agent Vuckovitch), Ving Rhames (Captain Langley), Gisele Fraga (Ana), Sarah Ann Schultz (Jenny Thames), Ray J Barry (Jack’s widowed dad),Michael Rodrick (John Lee), Melora Walters (Agent Glover); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Dan Toll/Taye Voye/Rich Cowan/Steve Anderson/Sarah Ann Schultz; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 2011)

An underwhelming thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An underwhelming thriller that’s a direct-to-video release. Director Rich Cowan (“The Basket”/”Shadow of Fear”) competently directs but by the numbers, and the procedural crime drama never adds up to much. Steve Anderson writes the ordinary but forgettable screenplay. Hard working homicide detective Jack Verson (Ray Liotta) becomes a prime murder suspect when women he once dated start turning up dead in rivers all across the country and the FBI agent Vuckovitch (Christian Slater), in charge of the case, refuses to clear him of being the pervert serial killer. Jack’s boss (Ving Rhames) and his supportive partner (Sarah Ann Schultz) believe he’s innocent, as does his foreign chef wife Ana (Gisele Fraga) despite their annoying spats. In the meantime the maniac strangler killer, a religious nutcase, with a link to Jack in the past, John Lee (Michael Rodrick), keeps doing his gruesome sicko thing until his day of reckoning. The result is a stilted, predictable and cliched drama. It could appeal to those with strong stomachs for graphic stale material, who can’t get enough bad Liotta films into their system. Though this time Liotta plays a good guy and is fine. But the acting honors go to the hammy obnoxious performance by Slater, who almost made this into a decent pic by his very entertaining over-the-top antics.