Picks and Pans Review: The Fixer

updated 03/09/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/09/1998 01:00AM

Showtime (Sun., March 8, 8 p.m. ET)

B

Jon Voight has been a very busy actor of late, in movies good (John Grisham's The Rainmaker), bad (Most Wanted) and weird (U-Turn). But his role in this cable original may be his meatiest since 1985's Runaway Train. Voight plays a powerful Chicago lawyer—a troubleshooter serving an unholy alliance of government, business and organized crime—who is given a task that troubles even his calloused conscience: Cover up for a developer (Karl Pruner) who killed a prostitute during an S&M session. Before he can finish "fixing" the situation, Voight has a riding accident that leaves him temporarily paralyzed. Upon his recovery he experiences a moral awakening: Why was he spared, if not to walk anew in the paths of righteousness and make his adolescent son (John White) proud? But the Mob boss (J.J. Johnston) will stop at nothing to keep Voight from going straight.

Once Voight starts fighting for his life as well as his soul, the melodrama grows excessively violent and increasingly implausible. Though the film (shot in Chicago and Toronto) draws authenticity from local color, its depiction of Windy City dealmaking sometimes resembles a crude political cartoon. Yet there is so much truth and anguish in Voight's performance—watch his eyes search frantically for escape when the hospital chaplain (Brent Jennings) asks if he is sorry for his sins—that walking away from The Fixer is never an option.

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