Christian thriller 'Thr3e' strikes out

Published: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 11:10 p.m.

Disgusted by police psychologist Jennifer Peters' appearances hawking a book about murderers, a killer teaches the cop (Justine Waddell) a lesson in humility.



One and one-half out of four stars

PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and terror

1 hour, 45 minutes

Directed by Robby Henson; written by Alan McElroy, based on Ted Dekker's novel; photography by Sebastian Milaszewski; starring Marc Blucas, Justine Waddell, Laura Jordan, Bill Mosley

Later, when the murderer known as the Riddle

Killer targets seminary student Kevin Parson (Marc Blucas), Peters, hands still bandaged from the explosion that killed her brother, is drawn back into the fray.

Anyone familiar with the "Saw" serial sadist will recognize the villain in "Thr3e," based on Ted Dekker's crime novel, as his just-as-evil twin. Only this torturer is fond of wielding Bible verses as clues to his mayhem. Yes, he's also got a thing for the number 3.

Before blowing up Parson's car, he scrawled "Confess" on it. But what could the star pupil have to own up to?

A batty aunt borrowed from "Sybil" (or is that "Carrie"?) didn't make life easy for the boy after his parents died. Neither did a local bully with a juvie record. Did he come baring a lethal grudge?

Only young neighbor Samantha brought enough light into his life that Parson grew up a thoughtful adult.

Flashbacks to the orphan's upbringing hint at answers. Don't look to them to satisfy. But what screenwriter Alan McElroy doesn't provide in quality, he tries to make up for with quantity.

Few ends are as crammed with revelations as the third act of "Thr3e." Another three comes to mind as the film shuffles and reshuffles the killer's identity: three card monte.

"Thr3e" is a mash-up of too many thrillers. Top on that list: David Fincher's "Se7en." Directed by Robby Henson, this theologically driven thriller from 20th Century Fox's Fox Faith division, steps gingerly around sex and watches its tongue. But it's far too comfy with the lingua franca of American cinema: violence.

Recently much has been written about the push to make movies for Christian audiences. But if "Thr3e," and recent sports inspirational "Facing the Giants," are any indication, this drive for bigger audiences won't be about discovering new stories so much as resurrecting familiar genres.

That may not be a reason for rending and gnashing. But it's hardly cause for celebration, either.

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