Pam Grier's peak definitely hit in the 70's when she starred in blaxploitation classics like Foxy Brown and Coffy, but she's never far from a renaissance. Quentin Tarantino built his flawed but interesting Jackie Brown around her and she's appeared in Ghosts of Mars and Mars Attacks! (Coincidence? Hmmm...) Pairing her with another schlock-classic legend (Rutger Hauer), 2000's Wilder plays with genre conventions while creating a bizarre rhythm and atmosphere. Mixing Cinemax-seeminess, blaxploitation sass and cop movie cliché, the movie never really gels. That may be due to a number of issues: Firstly, the dialog is a chaotic jumble of posturing and bad puns which, aided by a weak sound mix, leads to a lot of "what the hell did she just say?" moments. The movie's pacing and plotting are haphazard to say the least. Characters appear, disappear, and then reappear without the audience really having a clue who they are. Plot twists pop up randomly and story elements seem cobbled together from a half-dozen unrelated scripts. Noisy neighbors? Evil pharmaceutical company? Mysterious murderer? Throw it all in!
The acting, while never expected to be brilliant in a film like this, is just silly. The supporting players are just ridiculous (I've seen better performances by demons on Charmed.) Meanwhile Grier, whose strong suit has never been convincing performances, is her usual smirky self. She does get to deliver lines like "Love's a rotten alibi. It's like, 'Oh, I loved her so much I couldn't beat her, rape her or kill her!' Not very original!" and "The only chemistry between you and me is gonna be a DNA test," with full sarcasm. Hauer is his usual stoic/kinky self. They are a good match, as long as the material ain't Shakespeare.
While the spectacle of seeing Grier and Hauer falling in love may seem like a B-movie pipe dream, Wilder is mostly Z-grade.
The full-frame video is soft and lifeless. No real video problems emerge but the image just lacks vitality.
The Dolby Digital stereo audio is similarly dull. Voices are muddy and the weird score sounds like it's playing in the next room. Spanish subtitles are included.
Huge fans of the stars may want to see them here but the movie has nothing to recommend it to anyone else.