March 4, 2013

Riddle (2013)

Val Kilmer has always been one of my personal favorite actors. Growing up in the 80's, you couldn't help but love his flicks and the characters he played. The guy was everywhere, and he was awesome.

He was funny as hell in Top Secret and Real Genius. He was as perfect as Iceman in Top Gun as he was Madmartigan in Willow. He was great in The Doors, Thunderheart, and True Romance (though his role in True Romance was tiny.)

His take on Doc Holiday from Tombstone remains to this day one of the best characters I've seen anyone play in any movie, ever.

He was just about as awesome in Heat.

My personal faves of all of his movies, even above Tombstone (which is saying a lot), is Spartan. He was perfect in that film, and I watch it often. It's a go-to film of mine, when nothing else is on that interests me. Then again, most David Mamet flicks are like that for me. Yes, I know... boring.

Point is, the guy has chops, and has shown them time and again.

So as a big fan of his work, it boggles my mind how he's been relegated to the realm of Direct-to-Video movies of late. Sure, there's plenty of rumors out there about how difficult he was to work with, and he's not exactly 20-years-old and sexy anymore, so maybe he's not as marketable as he used to be, but how can no one want to cast him in good roles anymore?

Anywho, he's in Riddle, which was one of the reasons we were interested in seeing it... so, yeah.

Like Taken, but better and smarter. That's right, I said it.
Elisabeth Harnois plays Holly Teller; the All-American girl next door who does her homework and takes extra-special care of her mentally-challenged little brother, Nathan. Well, he's either mentally-challenged or he's extremely awkward and shy, we couldn't really tell. Let's just go with "special."

She's the "normal" one.
Two schoolyard bullies lure poor Nathan into their bitchin' hot rod, and take him on a high speed drive, all in order to make him piss his pants in terror, which he does. They pull over at some shady gas station to let the kid go clean himself up, and he disappears, thus setting up the true riddle of the movie: what happened to Nathan?

"We'd just like to know what happened to the script?"
Years later, Holly returns from College and sees someone in a crowd wearing her brothers shoes, which can't be mistaken for anyone else's shoes, because they have race cars on them. This sends her into an investigative frenzy which eventually leads her to the small town of Riddle, where no one wants to talk to her about her missing brother. Even the local Sheriff tells her to go away and forget about what she thinks she saw, which of course only strengthens her resolve to solve the riddle!

"Seriously, what happened here?"
Average Lifetime movie of the week shenanigans ensue.

Riddle isn't one of the worst movies we've seen recently, it was just one of the most uninspiring and dull ones. The script isn't strong enough to support a movie that involves mostly exposition, and so we were never able to fully get into what we were seeing.

It probably doesn't help matters that IMDB lists Riddle as having two directors and four writers involved with its production. It looks like at some point, someone was replaced, and whatever it was that they were going for with their version of the film, was melded together with whatever the new director/writers were brought in to fix/change/accomplish with it, and the end result was a bit of an uneven mess. We can't really find any info about any of this online, so we're obviously speculating, but the moral of the story is that too many hands in a pot like this seldom leads to good results.

Like this... WTF is this even doing in this movie?
Elisabeth Harnois at least does a solid job playing the concerned sister on a mission, and she was definitely the stand-out here. Don't get me wrong, none of the cast did a bad job in Riddle, but with the material that they had to work with, it just comes off like most of them didn't do a particularly good job either. As I said above, too many hands in the pot kills it.

Val Kilmer looks as if he sleepwalked his way through his performance here, and that has to be due in part to the character he plays. The Sheriff in Riddle seems unwilling to do much other than stare bewilderingly or play cards with his pals, which just made things frustrating. This guy was at one point a Hollywood heavyweight, you'd think they'd give him something juicier and more challenging to work with, you know? Then again, what does he have left to prove? Hell, I'd take a role in Riddle Part 4 if I could, so why shouldn't he?

You'll always be our Huckleberry, Val. Always.
Riddle feels like a project that was started with good intentions, but somewhere along the way things got muddled, the producers tried to fix things as they thought best, and it ended up just being even more muddled. A good idea gone bad.

If you don't mind the average Lifetime Channel mystery/thriller, then you'll probably not mind this movie either. In the end though, Riddle is exactly what its title suggests; a puzzling, confused, mess of a riddle, and one that most people wont care to see solved.


It makes us happy to see that a fellow Detroiter can not only escape this hellish city that we call home, but be such a Hottie while doing it. Good for you, Elisabeth Harnois.


  1. Glad to know someone else thinks Val Kilmer's Doc Holiday was brilliant! Keep up the good work


  2. Gosh, yet another poster plus Val Kilmer got me good.
    Can't even remember the names of the last movies I saw him (co)starring in.
    And why do I always have to stand through the whole thing like there being revelations at the end.
    Now it's 4 o'clock a.m. and I couldn't have written a better review than yours.
    Better to leaves this one unsolved

  3. I'd like to see a double act including Miss Harnois and Amber Heard.

  4. Um, yeah, Anon, who wouldn't? We are alive, after all :)

  5. you missed one more great Val Kilmer movie , THE SAINT :)

  6. Wonderland, The Saint, The Salton Sea... we didn't forget, just didn't list :)