Powerplay (1999, directed by Chris Baugh)


Shannon Tweed plays Jacqueline, a sexy con artist who seduces older men and then, after she poisons them, runs away with all of their money.  After her latest target, Benjamin Alcott (Bryan Kent), ends up floating dead in his swimming pool, Jacqueline heads off to find her next target.  Ben’s estranged daughter, Candice (Danielle Ciardi), is upset to learn that Ben only left her his library of book while leaving all of his money to Jacqueline.  Along with her sleazy boyfriend, Steve (Jim Richer), Candice tracks Jacqueline down and tries to con the con artist.

Shannon Tweed is top-billed in Powerplay but she’s not in much of the movie.  Both onscreen and off, this was clearly a take the money and run job for Tweed.  Still, a little bit of Tweed is better than no Tweed at all, especially where a film like Powerplay is concerned.  Of all the actresses who regularly appeared in late night Cinemax in the 90s, Tweed was definitely the most talented and she brings some needed energy to her scenes.  Tweed’s main strength as a star was always that she could be appealing and sexy even while she was smirking about killing someone and Powerplay makes good use of that ability.

The majority of the film, though, follows Candice and Steve as they try to track Jacqueline down.  In a nice twist, Candice is just as greedy, voracious, and cold-hearted as Jacqueline and Danielle Ciardi (who bore a probably not coincidental resemblance to Neve Campbell in Wild Things) does a good job of playing her.   This was Ciardi’s film debut and, according to the imdb, her only starring role.  That is too bad because it seems like she had the talent to do much more.  Unfortunately, Jim Richer is far less effective in the role of Steve.  In fact, all of the male performances in Powerplay are lousy and are not helped by an overly convoluted script that features a few plot twists that are incoherent even by the standards of the typical direct-to-video neonoir.  Powerplay ends with multiple cons and double-crosses but none of them feel earned.  There’s a difference between something like Stephen Frears’s The Grifters, where the con is obvious once you know what to look for, and Powerplay, where the con feels like a last minute addition to the script.

But who am I kidding?  This film wasn’t made for an audience that’s going to be watching for the plot.  They’re going to be watching because Shannon Tweed takes a shower while the man she poisoned dies nearby and because Candice is written and portrayed as almost being a nymphomaniac.  (Candice has a creative way of handling things when a hotel employee knock on the door of a room that she’s not supposed to be in.)  Powerplay has enough sex and nudity that it was undoubtedly popular when it showed up on late night Cinemax in 1999.  But it doesn’t have enough of a story to be memorable for any reason beyond that.

One response to “Powerplay (1999, directed by Chris Baugh)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 7/4/22 — 7/10/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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