Starring: Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Lloyd Bridges, Forest Whitaker, Suzy Amis
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins
Plot: An Irish bomber (Jones) escapes prison and travels to Boston to settle a score with a rival (Bridges) who now leads the bomb squad division, and has successfully hidden his background.
What Works: This is a very 90’s movie for sure. 6.2 on IMDB, 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think that’s a little unfair to the film, which definitely is uneven, but has some really solid moments. First, I thought Jeff Bridges did a really good job anchoring the film in reality. It reminded me a bit of his performance in Arlington Road, if people took him seriously in that film. Also, Forest Whitaker did a good job. There are some really excellent moments of tension, where you realize that pretty much everyone is expendable, except perhaps Bridges. Jones’ terrorist will stop at nothing, and is hoping to kill everyone around him, and the film definitely makes those stakes clear early on. I actually felt like the wife and daughter characters were on the chopping block the whole film, and felt the intensity in every scene where something could happen to them. I believed the film could and would go there if it enchanced the story. THe only character I ever felt wouldn’t die was Bridges, and that’s a pretty remarkable feat.
What Doesn’t Work: I never thought I’d see a “bad” performance from Tommy Lee Jones, but this is pretty damn close. It’s like he thought he was in a different movie. Granted, the writing for his character is all over the place, which might have confused him, but he doesn’t seem grounded in reality, or at least grounded in a serious action/drama. His character choices are so bizarre, they throw the film out of whack. He doesn’t come across so much as insane as he does a clown. This is probably his worst performance… ever. He plays this role almost the same way he did Two Face in Batman Forever, if that helps give some context. So incredibly bizarre.
Final Word: Poor Stephen Hopkins would go on to direct the career killing Lost In Space, which would cause studios to lose faith in letting him direct films with any kind of a budget. That’s not really fair, because aside from not telling Jones to calm the fuck down, he didn’t make many bad choices. The film does a solid job of building and holding tension, and he got good performances from Bridges and Whitaker. It’s definitely not a quintessential 90’s movie, but there’s something about it that feels classic 90’s. It’s SO 90’s, so completely entrenched in a time where Steven Segal was making films, Keanu Reeves was an FBI Agent, and Die Hard was pumping out sequels. It fits right in, and is somewhat a guilty pleasure because of it. I’m pretty sure this film is rated R for profanity, because there’s virtually nothing R rated here in terms of biolence. I enjoyed it enough to casually recommend it to anyone who is a fan of 90’s action/thrillers.
Final Grade: B