Dir: Russell Mulcahy
Star: Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Kevin Pollak, Ice T

Rookie cop Nick Styles (Washington) puts away the psychotic Blake (Lithgow), a move that starts his own star rising. Several years later, Blake escapes, fakes his own death, and begins a systematic campaign to destroy Styles' life from the shadows: killing his associates, destroying his career, wrecking his marriage, etc. Can Styles prove Blake is alive and clear his name? The good news: this is by the director of Highlander and the writer of Die Hard, Steven de Souza. The bad news: it's also by the director of Highlander II and the writer of Hudson Hawk. And there are elements of both good and bad to be found here.

The good is mostly from the performances, the bad almost entirely out of a script which, for example, has Styles funding law school out of his cop's salary. Meanwhile, Blake is in a prison where inmates can kill each other and still get a parole hearing. And while Ice T's drug-dealer is a fun character, at the end, he happily hands over a fully-stocked lab for wanton destruction, even though Styles threatened him with a hand grenade last time they spoke. Sense is not this film's strong suit, but Mulcahy hurls everything past with reckless abandon, and the actors give it their all. If it's not Cape Fear, mindless mayhem is producer Joel Silver's raison d'etre, and as such, this goes down like well-buttered popcorn.

June 2004

Denzel's bouncing
off the walls
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