Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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"BLOWN AWAY" MGM/UA, closed-captioned, $93.69.

Stephen Hopkins' mostly passable thriller isn't quite as one-dimensional as its title implies. As the picture begins, imprisoned IRA soldier Gaerity (Tommy Lee Jones) murders his cellmate, retrieves part of a bomb he'd hidden in the man's guts, blows a hole in the wall of his cell and vanishes into the darkness.

The film then turns to Boston, where a bomb squad is led by nonchalant daredevil Dove (Jeff Bridges), who appears to be a little too much in love with the life-and-death nature of his job.

Just as Dove is on the verge of retiring, someone starts planting bombs all over the city. Under normal circumstances, Dove could turn the job over to Franklin (Forest Whitaker), but Dove has an uneasy feeling that someone is trying to kill off members of the bomb squad - someone very brilliant and very, very sick. That someone is Gaerity, and his return both sinks the film and saves it.

Jones plays this eccentric killer with such maniacal verve that believability becomes a minor matter. Coming off his picture-stealing performance in "The Fugitive," Jones gives another one here, and while the drawled precision of his work in that earlier film was a lesson in restraint, his acting here is gloriously hammy and theatrical.

Like lethal Rube Goldberg creations, his bombs aren't merely meant to explode; they're macabre jokes, designed with killer punch lines.

The problem in any film with such a charismatic villain is that, by comparison, the hero will seem stodgy and dull. "Blown Away" is no exception. Bridges is a great actor, but he's not stylish or flamboyant. And though he's convincing, he is so outshone by Jones' high-candlepower brilliance that his character seems to disappear. Hal Hinson, Washington Post

***** "BELLE EPOQUE" Columbia TriStar, no price. …

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