Picks and Pans Review: Wisdom

updated 01/26/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/26/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

The last film Emilio Estevez wrote, That Was Then...This Is Now, was so bad, you'd think he'd try to master screenwriting before he tried directing. So much for wisdom with a small w. As director, writer and star at 23, Estevez is audacious, but this movie turns as fast as a square wheel. Estevez plays the title character, a combination Robin Hood and Pretty Boy Floyd. Having stolen a car while in high school, he can't get a decent job and complains that "you make one mistake and society never lets you forget it." So he becomes a criminal. But after hearing about the bank foreclosures of farmers on TV, he decides to be "a criminal for the people, not against them." He arms himself with a submachine gun and Molotov cocktails and storms into banks blowing up mortgage files. He and accomplice Demi ("About Last Night...") Moore soon become national heroes. Estevez, however, didn't set out to make a point about the banking system. He wanted to make a statement about the way we idolize movie stars and people like subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz instead of those Estevez considers real heroes, such as Vietnam vets. The message is never clear until the FBI catches up with the fugitives and there's some real pathos to contend with. Yet even this is diminished by a monumentally sappy ending that only Bobby Ewing could love. If it's true, as Estevez has said, that he can learn from even a bad movie, he is a much wiser man today. (R)

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