Lots of Lines, Not Enough Action
Eco conscious fashion designer Sophie Fyne (Jeri Ryan) is getting ready to open her first shop in Manhattan with her husband Adam (Anthony Lemke) and their friend Ian (Eugene Brotto) as partners. But she finds herself drawn into a murder investigation when a dead body wrapped in one of her outfits from her new line is found in a transport cargo. That is not the only thing which leads her to wonder what is going on as money disappears, accidents happen and people follow her putting not only her business in danger but also her daughter Spencer (Tiera Skovbye).
Frustrated is how I felt having watched the TV movie "Dead Lines" not because it was terrible, although neither is it good, but because this is a TV movie with potential. Here we have a murder mystery which has a storyline that evolves nicely, adding layers to the mystery till eventually the truth is revealed as murderer and motive comes to the fore. The trouble is that whilst you may not know the motive you can guess very early on who the murderer is and so whilst there are possibilities offered up to try and lead you down a wrong path you never fall for these red herrings. That is not the only trouble because "Dead Lines" is also a wordy movie with very little action and those few action scenes are quite weak which in turn makes "Dead Lines" a movie you have to really concentrate on.
The best thing about "Dead Lines" is that writer Jennifer Saxon has thought it through, building up the story so we start with a mystery of a worker in Marrakech being killed to tie in to Sophie's world. Piece by piece we get another layer to build on this mystery and basically connects the dots so come the end of the movie and the dramatic conclusion it makes sense. It is part of the reason "Dead Lines" ends up frustrating because the storyline is much better than you normally find in a TV movie.
But then you have issues and the first of which is that whilst we get the typical suspect aspect as certain people may have reason to try and sabotage Sophie's fashion business it makes it too obvious who will be behind it all. In fact "Dead Lines" also makes the red herrings, such as the rival fashion designer who is opposed to Sophie's eco-conscious morals, too much of a red herring so you can discount them as soon as they make an over the top threat. As such you end up watching knowing deep down who is behind the death and what appears to be sabotage and just waiting for an explanation and motive.
The other issue is that "Dead Lines" is one wordy movie and for a made for TV thriller it is sparse on action with what action scenes there are being dealt with very quickly. It means you have to concentrate on every second of the movie in case you miss something important someone says and as there is quite a bit of general talk it makes it hard work. Basically it needed more and longer action as well as less reliance on dialogue to establish certain things which are meant to have happened.
Having said that, with "Dead Lines" being a wordy movie it does feature some above average acting for a TV movie. There is no stand out performance but Jeri Ryan and Anthony Lemke as Sophie and Adam do a good job of not just delivering dialogue but also characters. Yes there is the usual TV movie issue of characters doing things which normal people wouldn't do in a moment of crisis but because these are not thin characters it makes it almost seem acceptable when they do something which wouldn't happen.
What this all boils down to is that "Dead Lines" could have been a really good TV movie and the well worked storyline could have been made into something quite decent. But because of the reliance on words rather than action and the simple fact it is obvious who is behind everything it becomes a bit of a slog as you wait to get to the end purely to discover the motive.