Picks and Pans Review: Blown Away

updated 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Suzy Amis, Lloyd Bridges, Forest Whitaker

Like a Chinese opera, this formulaic action film is colorful and visually striking. It also needs a libretto. A typical line of dialogue sounds like, "I mmrph ngaga mbuttlzi un daboodi glonf."

Production sound mixer Thomas Causey uses mixes that are so muddy the actors' lines seem to have been filtered through oatmeal. Add plenty of loud music and ambient noise and it's impossible to tell what's going on.

There are other problems too: Jones, as a fugitive crackpot Irish terror bomber who's out to devastate Boston, affects a comically thick brogue. And Whitaker, as a member of Bridges' Boston police bomb squad, swallows his lines.

While none of this is the fault of screenwriters Joe Batteer and John Rice, they aren't exactly churning out Macbeth, either. As far as characterization goes, there haven't been this many stick figures since the Egyptians gave up hieroglyphics.

Bridges is your standard disgruntled movie cop. He wants to retire, but has to come back to battle the bomber, leaving his new wife and stepdaughter to maneuver themselves into position to be targets for the killer's extortion.

Jones, meanwhile, is an aimless, sadistic fiend who, after planting an elaborate, massive bomb on a man, cries when it explodes. He also harbors some kind of ill-defined grudge against Bridges for something in their mutual past. Amis is a strikingly old-fashioned damsel in distress.

The most amusing character is Jeff's real father, Lloyd Bridges, who plays his uncle and mentor, a retired cop. Jeff and Lloyd's scenes generate what little energy there is, outside of the incessant explosions—that's 103 GIANT ORANGE FIREBALLS!! folks; 103! (R)

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