Rated R - Running time: 1:40 - Released 1/30/98

An interesting debate: which of the characters in this movie is the least believable? Is it the smarter-than-Einstein killer with superhuman strength? Or the good cop who's suddenly willing to kill dozens of people and go to jail forever to get his way? Or maybe the dying child who continually spouts sappy, oversentimental philosophies about his own mortality? I'll bet Andy Garcia, Michael Keaton, and Joseph Cross had a healthy wager going on during shooting.

This latest in the blow-up film genre is set in San Francisco, where veteran police detective Frank Conner (Garcia) is committing his first of many crimes: illegally accessing the database of the local hospital to find a bone marrow donor for his son Matt (Cross), who is dying of leukemia. The only suitable match just happens to be the latest Hannibal Lecter, the worst, most infamous, most intelligent criminal in town, Peter McCabe (Keaton). I mean, this guy has to be hog-tied just to have a conversation with you. But the deal is made, and the surgery is scheduled.

With McGuyver-like ingenuity, McCabe is able to slip out of his restraints during the procedure, evade dozens of armed officers, kill and maim numerous guards and hospital personnel, and get away. Since he's been shot, he has to do surgery on his own leg so that he may continue running around the hospital (and the city) doing high-impact aerobics and pulling all sorts of incredibly clever stunts to throw the cops off his trail.

But Conner's kid still needs the goo from inside this guy's bones, so while the entire SFPD chases McCabe with shoot-to-kill orders, Conner the lawman does everything possible (and several things impossible) to protect the crook. This includes putting his fellow officers in mortal danger on several occasions, and actually jumping in front of McCabe while they're shooting at him. Meanwhile Matt is being pushed around the hospital in his oxygen tent saying things like, "It's okay if I die, Daddy, 'cause I know you tried your best," and, "Will I see Mommy in heaven?" P.U.

Don't get me wrong: Garcia, Keaton, and even newcomer Cross are all good actors, and they do an admirable job here attempting to make characters out of Silly Putty, particularly Keaton. But writer David Klass just didn't give them much to work with, and director Barbet Schroeder seems too concerned with explosions and helicopter shots to bother with the actors. **

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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