Director – Jonathan Kaplan, Screenplay – Lewis Colick, Story – Lewis Colick, John Katchmer & George D. Putnam, Producer – Charles Gordon, Photography – Jamie Anderson, Music – James Horner, Production Design – Lawrence G. Paull. Production Company – Largo International NV/JVC Entertainment
Kurt Russell (Michael Carr), Ray Liotta (Officer Peter Davis), Madeleine Stowe (Karen Carr), Roger E. Mosley (Officer Ray Cole), Ken Lerner (Roger Graham)
A burglar breaks into the house of Michael and Karen Carr. One of the investigating police officers, Peter Davis, proves helpful and becomes their friend. After Peter finds the burglar and brutally beats him in front of Michael, Michael decides he wants nothing more to do with him. However, after he announces this, Peter starts terrorizing their lives, registering their credit cards as over the limit, wheel-locking their car for unpaid parking tickets and arresting Michael for cocaine possession, all the while trying to have his way with Karen.
In the early 1990s, the psycho-thriller genre gravitated toward Middle Class concerns. In films like Fatal Attraction (1987), Pacific Heights (1990) and Single White Female (1992) and a great many imitators, Middle-Class America was up against the wall, facing psychos that were invading their homes and undermining the security of their lives. These films seemed very much an echo of late 1980s/early 1990s America where economic policy under the Reagan and Bush governments had resulted in lowering of wages and massive unemployment due to corporate restructuring as well as greater crime on the streets, all of which was reflected in a heightening of Middle Class insecurity. The scary thing about Unlawful Entry is that the same things that psycho cop Ray Liotta is saying about law and order comes from exactly the same ticket and promise of crackdown against crime that George Bush [Sr] went into the White House on.
While Unlawful Entry has a great underlying subtext, it never ignites as a thriller. Director Jonathan Kaplan does an efficient job of winding the suspense up but it feels too mechanical, too calculating. Ray Liotta is an actor with handsomely boyish features and ice cold blue eyes that never show any warmth – the film here casts him rather well, he able to project a scary balance between deceptively innocent handsomeness and a cold, calculating cruelty. On the other hand, the film never gives any glimpse into motivation on his part. It is also hard to accept Kurt Russell in an essentially wimped-out role, hard to feel that he is much at threat when he comes with such a large baggage of association with action roles behind him.
Director Jonathan Kaplan had started out in various softcore and Blaxploitation films during the 1970s. He graduated in the 1980s to solid dramatic work such as Heart Like a Wheel (1983) and The Accused (1987) and since the 1990s has mostly worked in television. His one other venture into genre cinema was the banal Project X (1987) about chimpanzees being used in Air Force experiments.