The upscale and complacent life of Michael and Karen Carr (Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe) is interrupted one night when a burglar breaks into their home via their skylight. The intruder briefly holds a knife to Karen’s throat before taking off. Shaken by the encounter, the Carrs are very happy when a seemingly friendly cop, Officer Pete Davis (Ray Liotta). offers to help them cut through all the red tape and get a security system installed in their house.
At first glance, Pete seems like the perfect cop but actually, he’s a mentally unstable fascist who quickly becomes obsessed with Karen. When Pete offers Michael his nightstick so that Michael can use it on the man who earlier broke into his house, Michael refuses. That’s all that Pete needs to see to decide that Michael’s not a real man and that Karen would be better off with him. Even after Michael orders Pete to stay away from his home, Pete continues to drop by so that he can spy on the couple. When Michael complains, Pete frames him by planting cocaine at his house. When Michael says that he’s innocent, no one believes him. Why would they? Pete’s a decorated cop who is keeping the streets safe. Michael is just a homeowner. While Michael sits in jail, the increasingly violent and unhinged Pete makes plans to make Karen his own.
“Who watches the watchmen?” as the old saying goes. Unlawful Entry is an efficient and no-nonsense thriller that was ahead of its time as far as its portrayal of a policeman abusing his authority is concerned. Jonathan Kaplan was trained in the Roger Corman school of filmmaking so he doesn’t waste any time getting to the story and he even finds a role for Dick Miller. Ray Liotta, fresh off of his performance in Goodfellas, is perfectly cast as the manipulative and misogynistic Pete while Kurt Russell is once again the ideal everyman. Madeleine Stowe, who was one of the best actresses of the 90s, does not get to do much beyond be menaced but she does it well. Whatever happened to Madeleine Stowe? Kurt Russell’s career is still going strong and Ray Liotta still appears regularly in gangster movies and Chantix commercials. Isn’t it about time for a Madeleine Stowe comeback?