From Eve to Indiana Jones, lots of people have always had a problem with snakes. That’s why Fair Game might seem like such a promising thriller: Take feisty heroine Trudie Styler, lock her in an apartment with a lethal black mamba, and watch our most primal fears come true. How could it miss?
And yet it does. The movie’s plot is ludicrously put in motion by a control freak (Gregg Henry), who’d rather kill his ex-wife (Styler) than let her live without him. So he sets the snake loose, seals all the exits, and monitors the results by computer. Meanwhile, back in the apartment, the mamba pops up in some truly shocking places, and director Mario Orfini sustains the suspense with some clever camera work. But he eventually runs out of ideas, backs himself into a corner, and needs a contrived pseudo-Hitchcockian twist to get himself out. By then we’ve tired of the heroine and her predicament, and we’re rooting for the snake.