Derrick Tyler was always the smart one. He knew how to make things work.
With his best friend Rafe, he parlayed a small advertising and marketing firm into something worth millions. He married Traci, an equally bright and incredibly beautiful woman. And he built a life filled with beautiful things.
That doesn’t, however, mean that Derrick has been necessarily … happy. The strains and stresses in married and professional life can weigh on a person.
So, when he and Rafe wing off to Vegas for a friend’s bachelor party, Derrick does something far less that smart. He takes off his wedding ring, starts chatting up a woman named Val at a club, begins lying his face off and ends up in bed with her.
With a few more next-morning lies, though, Derrick hopes he has put his stupid choices behind him. He’ll fly home. Get back to normal life. And get things working again.
Only problem is, on the night Derrick arrives home, some thug breaks into his home. And when the police arrive, the lead detective is a woman: an officer named Detective Val Quinlan. It seems she just got back from a trip to Vegas, too.
“Did you say your name was Derrick or Darrin, Mr. Tyler?” Detective Quinlan asks with a wry look. And Derrick begins reviewing in his head all the lies he told this woman while they were having sex and after. As the detective keeps lightly pushing Derrick in less-than-friendly ways while he sits on the couch next to his wife, Derrick can’t help feeling that he’s put himself in something of a pickle.
“I’ll just need to talk to your wife alone for a minute,” Det. Quinlan says as she leads Traci off to another room. And Derrick realizes that he probably ought to start thinking quickly if he hopes to work things out.
But right now … Derrick Tyler isn’t feeling very smart.
Every character in this tale is plagued by major character flaws. But you could see their collective story as a cautionary tale about how foolish choices, and in particular foolish sexual choices, can cause great harm.
Derrick’s mother states that doing right and being honorable are character traits of great value.
Numerous women in a Vegas dance club wear curve-hugging dresses.
Derrick and Val dance seductively together, kissing on the dance floor. They make out and end up pulling off each other’s clothes back at Val’s hotel room and falling into bed together. They’re both apparently naked and covered by a sheet the next morning.
Much later, back in L.A. the two have quick impassioned sex again, this time while mostly dressed. (We see Val’s bare backside).
Derrick and Traci also have sex. They’re both naked and in bed, uncovered from the waist up, though we only see her bare back.
[Spoiler Warning] It turns out that Traci is having an affair, too. We see her and another man hugging and kissing and then Derrick catches the two of them in bed together (no nudity other than the man’s bare chest).
We see a young girl pick up her inebriated mother’s police revolver. She accidentally shoots herself (off camera).
Several people are murdered. One man is shot in the stomach while wrestling for a gun. We see the oozing wound as he bleeds out. Two other men are killed with shotgun blasts to the chest and face. And two people shoot each other with revolvers across a large room. None of these killings are overly gory, but all of them are bloody.
During what looks like a robbery, Derrick and a masked man pound each other into kitchen counters and walls. Derrick is smashed down onto a piece of furniture that collapses. Then the attacker shoots his pistol near Derrick’s ear. Derrick hits the intruder several times with a golf club. Later, Det. Quinlan suggests that the break-in may have actually been a potential “hit job.”
A woman is battered about and given a bloody lip. And a couple gets shot in the back. A man dreams of drowning while being held under water.
More than 25 f-words and 10 s-words are joined by uses of “d–n,” “b–ch” and “a–.” Jesus’ name is misused once. And rap songs in the soundtrack call out multiple uses of the n-word and pair the f-word with “mother.”
A group of friends drinks champagne together. And a bachelor party in a club features lots of people consuming mixed drinks. A depressed Derrick gets staggeringly drunk on a bottle of vodka. We hear that Val has a drinking problem and see in flashback a scene where she’s drunk. She later drinks some vodka and angrily throws the glass afterward.
Someone is blackmailed into a committing a crime. And Det. Quinlan proposes pinning several murders on an innocent.
Our secular culture tries, in a variety of ways, to tell us that the pursuit of godly values and virtues is foolish. And at the same time, we have films like this one that deliver something of a morality tale. Indeed, Fatale serves up a dramatic illustration of how bad choices can destroy a hard sought-after good life.
But let’s ponder that phrase bad choices, shall we? Because we witness a lot of them here. Fatale is packed with carnal infidelity, heartless betrayal, vile manipulation and bloody murder.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.