Picks and Pans Review: The Lawnmower Man

updated 03/23/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/23/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Fahey

Might your local yardman just up and disintegrate you at a moment's whim? That notion is what passes for a story in this latest of the pulpy films that have leaped, glassy-eyed and gore-dripping, from the pages of Stephen King's scare fiction.

This latest attempt to translate King's horrific talent into a movie interweaves ancient fright techniques with modern technology and winds up as Nintendoized Gothic. All the mythic pieces are present here: the village half-wit, the sadistic priest, the well-meaning doctor who Doesn't Know What He Has Created. The time is now, though, and the resident moron, Fahey (White Hunter, Black Heart), is handy enough with machines to help a local gardener (Geoffrey Lewis) mow lawns. You should see how handy he becomes after the mad scientist on the case (Brosnan) introduces him to the electronic mind games of "virtual reality." This subconscious sanctum looks like a liquid, volcanic Toon Town, but it packs a psychic wallop; pretty soon Fahey—using only "mind waves," ladies and gentlemen, never do his hands leave their wrists—has incinerated a priest who beat him, pulverized a government agent and revved his lawnmower to attack speed. Even so, Brosnan intones, in the speech that's inevitable in these films, "If we use wisdom, not ignorance, then this technology will free the mind of man, not enslave it." Well, sure, Pierce; but next time we'll just let the neighbor's kid do the lawn, thanks, and save everybody a lot of bother. (R)

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