Picks and Pans Review: Judgment Night

updated 11/01/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/01/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Stephen Dorff, Denis Leary

If your appetite for chase films wasn't sated by the superior The Fugitive, consider giving Judgment Night a try. It's a modest but smartly crafted model of the genre and one in which only one car gets blown up and the corpse count remains in the single digits.

As suburbanite Estevez kisses his baby daughter goodbye in the movie's opening scene, he calmly reassures his wife, "It's just a bunch of guys going to a boxing match. That's it." That, of course, isn't it, because a long night of trouble lies ahead as the guys (Estevez, Dorff, Gooding Jr. and Jeremy Piven) try to beat the traffic into downtown Chicago, make a detour off the expressway and wind up in the middle of a murder scene. They then spend the rest of the movie running from the killers, a vicious group of thugs led by fast-taunting stand-up comic Leary, who is surprisingly effective as a bad guy.

The rest of the cast, as crisply directed by Stephen Hopkins, is as good as they have to be and, thanks to a better-than-average script by Lewis Colick, actually have characters to play rather than just types. This one may not rock your boat, but it will float it. (R)

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