Ken Tucker
July 29, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

At first, Bitter Vengeance looks as though it will be your usual USA Network TV movie, by which I mean in the first half hour there’s a bedroom scene in which an attractive woman lolls around in nothing but a red bra, red underpants, and red spike heels. (This is the unofficial USA actress uniform.) But it turns out that Bitter Vengeance is a bit better than that. Bruce Greenwood (St. Elsewhere) stars as a cad who’s cheating on his wife, played by Virginia Madsen, and plans a bank robbery with an assist from his girlfriend (Kristen Hocking, she of the red attire mentioned earlier).

Bitter is the umpteenth variation on The Postman Always Rings Twice, in which adultery, money, and death commingle. But the script by Pablo Fenjves is gratifyingly sharp, full of punchy dialogue and a vivid character for Madsen to play: the wronged wife who gets back at hubby. Only the ending is flat and sappy. Greenwood is convincingly dastardly, and while Hocking’s role isn’t as fully sketched-in, she gets a lot out of a winningly flirtatious personality and a dazzlingly toothy smile. B-

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