Movie Review: Tortured (2008)

As much as I like myself a steady diet of violence in my movies, I’m mostly unimpressed with the whole “torture-porn” phenomenon. It’s not the glorification that I take issue with; it’s more about the difficulty in putting together a half-way decent movie around the concept. Only Saw with its ingenious contraptions tied to life and death mind-teasers and Hostel which highlighted it all as a freakish fetish successfully married the two. Then came the mess that is their sequels and crap like Captivity. Today there is Tortured.

The premise of Tortured is built around the double life of FBI agent Kevin Cole (Cole Hauser). On one hand he is a hard working field agent for the FBI with something to prove to his father, FBI director Jack Cole (James Cromwell). On the other, he takes on the persona of Jimmy Vaughn, the muscle for a crime syndicate headed by a mysterious and very wanted underworld boss named Ziggy. To bring down Ziggy (and gain his father’s admiration), Kevin must sacrifice his humanity by extracting information from an accountant named Archie Green (Laurence Fishburne), a man accused of embezzling several million dollars from Ziggy’s dealings.

The shock of the movie is quite obviously the torture scenes. Kevin’s methods of persuasion are varied and all extremely painful to the recipient. Ever wanted to see a man’s fingernails being pulled out with a pair of pliers? How about repeated taserings or salt being rubbed into open wounds? These are just a few of the more popular methods that are performed by Kevin as he spirals deeper into uncharted territory — leaping across the line that separates the sane from the psychotic.

But wait, there’s more! Taking cues from mainstream thrillers, writer/director Nolan Lebovitz decided to toss a few curveballs into the film, which takes Tortured and flips it on its head. One twist is so improbable and hard to fathom, that once it is revealed, it takes all the air out of the room and wipes away what could be perceived as a good outing for Cole Hauser. I think it is safe to say that Hauser has been relegated to the lower planes of Hades, I mean Hollywood, but as a man clearly troubled with his situation, Hauser easily tops his more accomplished co-stars Fishburne and Cromwell. Speaking of Laurence Fishburne, I’m not entirely sure what has happened to his career but judging from his latest body of work it looks like he has started that slow, painful slide into obscurity. And I should state, unconvincingly half-assing the role of a guy fearful for his and his family’s life ain’t no way to get it back on track either.

But what should be expected from a straight-to-DVD film? Oscar worthy performances? Top-notch writing? Of course not. But with this caliber of talent (as compared to other video store fare), I couldn’t help but expect a bit more. I won’t go all out and exclaim that watching Tortured is in itself a form of torture but I can think of hundreds of other things I’d like to have been doing instead.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Tortured (2008)' have 9 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 1, 2008 @ 12:05 pm Marius

    To be honest, the movie wasn’t that bad. Not sure why you compared the movie with SAW movies. In my opinion, has nothing to do with horror movies.
    I liked Fishburne’s acting and the movie is better than many I saw lately. And the final is also quite unexpected. :)
    I would rate it 7 out of 10.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 3, 2008 @ 7:20 am General Disdain

    Agreed, the final is unexpected but I can’t get past how ridiculous it turned out to be.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 27, 2008 @ 11:30 pm E

    Sorry but I could not disagree with you more! I just watched the movie and got online to find if and when there will be a coming sequel to this movie.
    I see no comparison with this movie and movies such as SAW (though I like those as well)…this movie is much more in the tradition of an old series on TV called “Wiseguy”…I would put this movie with that type of tradition much more. Anyone who enjoys this type of film will probably appreciate Torture for what it is. Sorry to disagree but I think you’re way off on your thoughts about this movie.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 3, 2008 @ 6:30 am General Disdain


    No apologizing necessary. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 28, 2008 @ 10:56 am tob wilson

    this movie sucked more than monica lewinsky in the oval office

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 8, 2008 @ 10:49 pm Nobrun

    Just watched the movie. The actors played their parts well but they looked ridiculous because the story/writing was sub par. This was wasted talent. Like E above I also bumped into this site while researching a ‘Tortured’ sequel.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 14, 2010 @ 10:56 pm Smokey

    Just watched Tortured and I disagree with your review. I generally don’t like torture movies, especially those that exploit for pop effects. Those are typically movies formula-made for adolescents. But this is not a torture movie. It is a classic suspense drama that is well-acted by Hauser and Fishburne, in addition to a good supporting cast. I wasn’t very familiar with Hauser but he is impressive. He holds the screen as well as Fishburne, who is an excellent actor. I recommend the movie as a better than average suspense drama – at least 7 out of 10.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 1, 2013 @ 7:15 pm Nino

    I agree with Smokey, this movie was not meant to blow you’re mind with gore and torture techniques. Though I must say that Fishbourne’s acting was far form convincing. The only other problem were a few things that seemed improbable or illogical in the story plot, but at the end of the day this was deffinitely a pretty enjoyable movie, much more so than many other big name big budget flicks that I’ve seen since thos movie came out. 7/10 for sure

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 27, 2013 @ 5:54 pm iris

    io sinceramente il finale non l ho capito…

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