In the Arms of a Killer (1992) Jaclyn Smith, John Spencer, Nina Foch, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Sandahl Bergman, Linda Dona, Michael Nouri Movie Review

In the Arms of a Killer (1992)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Jaclyn Smith in In the Arms of a Killer (1992)

In Need of the Angels

Maria Quinn (Jaclyn Smith - Kaleidoscope) is new as a detective in Manhattan and finds herself partnered up with veteran detective and self appointed top cop, Vincent Cusack (John Spencer - Presumed Innocent), whose constant cigar smoking annoys her. On the first day Maria finds herself called to a fancy party where they find a drug dealer laid out on a bed, stiff as a board from a heroin overdose. It seems that two people at the party may have had motives, a secret drug addict and her doctor who was trying to cure the woman of her addiction. When the woman shows up dead Cusack believes the case is solved but Maria doesn't think so and finds herself suspecting someone much closer to home.

"In the Arms of a Killer" starts with a drug deal in a grim hotel room which ends with a shooting, yet the next scene leaps forward an unspecified amount of time as we see Maria dealing with her first rape victim. What is the importance of that opening scene? That is one of the many questions you will be left asking once the 93 minutes are up and you begin to question your own sanity for sticking with the convoluted mess which is "In the Arms of a Killer". And trust me I tend to enjoy these sorts of detective stories which are all about a tangled case but this one is just ridiculous.

John Spencer in In the Arms of a Killer (1992)

Here though is the simple truth about "In the Arms of a Killer", it is a star vehicle for Jaclyn Smith and nothing more. I say that because the storyline is so full of contrivances that it ends up alienating those who watch because they want to play amateur detective. The trouble is that Smith's character, Maria, is uninteresting, yes attractive, yes likeable but never once believable as any sort of detective, be it rookie or veteran. In fact John Spencer makes much more of an impact as the cliche filled but at least entertaining detective Cusack. I say cliche filled because he is a cigar smoking cop who carries around tools to pick locks and has detectives who listen to him as if he was their don, it is the sort of character that if this had been made for the big screen back in the 60s would have been a perfect role for Frank Sinatra.

What is surprising about "In the Arms of a Killer" is that it was made in 1992 and I believe set in 1992 but the whole style of it feels late 70s. The incidental music, the characters, the drug storyline and so on it is as if I was watching a movie made in 1978 but with fashions from the future. That may have something to do with writer and director Robert L. Collins who helmed many movies and TV series during the late 70s and 80s.

What this all boils down to is that "In the Arms of a Killer" is a movie for those who are fans of Jaclyn Smith or the late John Spencer. But it isn't for those who enjoy detective movies as it is simply too contrived and convoluted for its own good.