Trois 2: Pandora’s Box (2002) Movie Review

“Trois 2” falls into the category of Reverse Femme Fatale, where the lead is a woman who enters into a dangerous situation with a charming man (the male femme fatale, if you will) and seems to be way over her head. I believe Linda Fiorentino’s sly turn as a femme fatale in John Dahl’s 1994 “The Last Seduction” brought back the whole Femme Fatale fad, even though you could track the genre back to 1981’s popular “Body Heat”, and even further back with Billy Wilder’s 1944 picture “Double Indemnity”. The Reverse Femme Fatale genre, though, has just recently surfaced, and the “victims” are the women and the perpetrator (the seducer or manipulator) is a man.

Co-written and directed by Rob Hardy, “Trois 2” is, as the name implies, a sequel to “Trois”. The title is shorthand for m’nage à trois, the French word for a sexual activity involving three people — or as the kids call it, a threesome. I have seen the original, but only vaguely remember it as being a straight drama, with the introduction of the third party in the threesome causing a rift between a married couple. “Trois 2” on the other hand is a straight Reverse Femme Fatale movie, with Michael Jai White (as the improbably named Hampton Hines) in the role of the seducer, and Monica Calhoun as a married psychiatrist who falls for him. In a nutshell: she’s unsatisfied at home; meets seducer; has a torrid affair; learns he may not be who he claims to be.

I cannot accurately relate just how bad the dialogue is in “Trois 2”. In particular, scenes involving Calhoun’s Mia and Chrystale Wilson, who play Mia’s patient, Tammy, are just filled with laughable lines. It’s not that Hardy and his co-writers are incapable of writing good dialogue; it’s just that they’ve obviously written a screenplay before casting their actors, and have not bothered to adjust the script in accordance with the actors they have on board. As a result, much of the dialogue comes across as beyond the grasp of the actors speaking them. Which is to say, characters in the movie don’t talk the way they act, and when they are required to deliver an inappropriate phrase, it just comes out as, well, inappropriate-sounding.

For its first hour, “Trois 2” is a dull movie slowly chugging towards its inevitable plot points. Surely Hardy knows that we’ve seen this movie (or some form of it) thousands of times before, and that we can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. Forgive the snobbish attitude, but I knew how this movie was going to end even before the writers did! As anyone who has seen enough Femme Fatale movies can attest to, there’s just no other way for “Trois 2” to end.

“Trois 2” offers up a number of sex scenes in return for its bad script and sometimes stilted acting. Unfortunately most of the actors engaged in said sex scenes are not very attractive, which pretty much puts the kibosh on that whole notion. (If you’re going to flash skin, at the very least make sure the skin is nice to look at, guys.) I’m as straight as the next guy, but even I will admit that the men in “Trois 2” are actually much more attractive than the women. Do these guys work out or what? (That last one was a rhetorical question, natch.)

Although to be fair, “Trois 2” did finally manage to entertain me with its remaining 30 minutes. The film picks up a lot of steam as it gets to the heart of the matter — the inevitable revealing of a plot that we (the audience) is supposed not to have seen coming, and the subsequent double cross and, sometimes, triple cross. You shouldn’t consider that last statement spoilers, because Femme Fatale movies are notorious for their double crosses. It’s what makes the picture so fun to watch. “Trois 2” follows the conventions to the letter.

In an intriguing discovery, former TV hunk Joey Lawrence (“Blossom”) shows up in an elongated cameo as a police Detective, although he’s so bored that it took me a while to place his face. Lawrence doesn’t look like he wants to be there, and who can blame him. Even he must realize that a small role in “Trois 2” is a step down (way down) from a TV gig. And is it just me, or does seeing Joey walking around with a shoulder holster and his gun exposed the whole time just a little…odd? Of course, this is only in relations to the movie’s handling of cops and police procedures, which gives new meaning to the phrase, “You call this a crime scene?”

As Joey’s character in “Blossom” would say, “Whoa!”

Rob Hardy (director) / Gregory Ramon Anderson, Rob Hardy, William Packer (screenplay)
CAST: Michael Jai White …. Hampton Hines
Monica Calhoun …. Mia DuBois
Kristoff St. John …. Victor Dubois
Joey Lawrence …. Detective Anderson
Tyson Beckford …. Lance Racine

Buy Trois 2: Pandora's Box on DVD