A John Travolta Murder Mystery Is Getting A Second Life On Netflix

A John Travolta movie that you might have completely forgotten about is now making a comeback, streaming on Netflix

By Chad Langen | Published

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john travolta

John Travolta was considered one of the biggest celebrities on the planet during the 80s and 90s. With starring roles in films like Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Urban Cowboy, and Pulp Fiction, the actor was a bonified superstar. Although he headlined a few box office hits in the early 2000s, his most talked-about picture at the time, and sadly for all the wrong reasons, was the disastrous sci-fi flick Battlefield Earth. The movie grossed about $30 million worldwide, but with an estimated $73 million production budget and $20 million in marketing costs, it’s regarded as one of the most expensive box office bombs of all time. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film sits with a 3% rotten rating from critics and a 12% rotten rating from audiences. Unfortunately, if we’re going by Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, the actor may have an even lousier movie on his resume called The Poison Rose.

Released in theaters by Lionsgate in 2019, The Poison Rose is based on Richard Salvatore’s 2018 novel of the same name. The film stars John Travolta and was co-directed by Francesco Cinquemani and George Gallo. Although the movie received the Best Directing International Award at the Terre di Siena Film Festival, the picture was panned by critics and audiences upon its release. The film grossed a measly $324,000 at the box office making for a short-lived theatrical run, but it may have found a new lease on life thanks to Netflix.

According to FlixPatrol, a site that tracks all titles climbing the charts on streaming platforms in 127 countries around the world, The Poison Rose has managed to rank in the Top 10 movies in the United States on Netflix this week. In fact, the movie ranked 9th on September 4th, but it moved up to the 6th position on September 6th. That’s not too shabby for a movie that currently sits on Rotten Tomatoes with a shocking 0% rotten rating from critics and a 22% rotten rating from audiences. Are viewers finding a new appreciation for the thriller?

In The Poison Rose, John Travolta stars as Carson Philips, a hard-drinking Los Angeles private eye who takes a case in his hometown of Galveston, Texas. While searching for a missing woman, Philips must confront a crime boss, a shady doctor, a sexy club singer, his former lover, and his past.

Principal photography for The Poison Rose took place in Savannah, Georgia in June 2018 and continued in Italy following the summer months. Released internationally as Eye for an Eye, the film features a cast that is absolutely stacked with talent. In addition to John Travolta, the thriller stars Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Famke Janssen (X-Men), Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Peter Stormare (Armageddon), Travolta’s daughter Ella Bleu Travolta (Old Dogs), and Screen Actors Guild Awards winner Brendan Fraser (The Mummy).

Fraser portrays Dr. Miles Mitchell in the film, a role Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) was originally in talks for. With such a star-studded cast and an intriguing storyline, where exactly did the movie go wrong?

Unlike its motion picture counterpart, Richard Salvatore’s novel was well-received, with generally positive reviews from readers. There are many instances where a book just doesn’t translate well on screen, and that looks to be the case with The Poison Rose. Cast members such as John Travolta and Morgan Freeman have been in a handful of critically acclaimed movies, but viewers seem to agree the two lacked energy in their roles in the 2019 thriller.

It’s also worth noting that directors Francesco Cinquemani and George Gallo aren’t exactly known for their motion picture achievements. In fact, both filmmakers have resumes that are riddled with poorly rated flicks. Are they to blame for the movie’s poor reception and box office performance? Not entirely. The film’s lack of success is likely due to a combination of things including a predictable screenplay, a bored cast, and poor direction. Whatever the case may be, it’s nice to see the movie getting a second life on Netflix. As The Poison Rose continues to climb the charts, maybe viewers will come to realize they were initially too hard on the movie. Then again, viewers may remember why they despised the film in the first place.