Picks and Pans Review: Choke Canyon

updated 09/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It's not a glorious triumph of substance over style, but this old-fashioned adventure film offers a refreshing diversion from the big-budget blow-'em-ups. The hero is Stephen (Brewster's Millions) Collins, as a physicist with a 99-year lease on Choke Canyon, Utah, the one spot on earth where he can prove a theory that will bring safe energy to mankind. An unscrupulous corporate overlord, played by Nicholas (The Falcon and the Snowman) Pryor, wants to use the site to dump illegal nuclear waste. After destroying Collins' lab, he sends in veteran character actor Bo Svenson, suitably menacing as a hit man armed with portable rocket launchers, to finish the job. While the action, with its well-shot air chases through the canyon, is predictable, the script is layered with wit. Collins is such an engaging good guy that he can't kidnap Pryor's daughter (played by Karen Allen look-alike Janet Julian) without providing her with a few dozen take-out burgers and several buckets of fried chicken. "How could you put me in a pit?" she later complains. "It wasn't that bad," he says. "How would you like it?" "I like pits." Who could argue with logic like that? (PG)

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