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The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Jeb Stuart

REVIEWED: 11-03-97

"Whoever done this knew what they were doing," a cop reverently announces with a splayed female corpse behind him. Too bad the same can't be said for writer/director Jeb Stuart and his pseudological thriller. He does have all the requisite plug-ins from his storyboard. There's the serial murderer, Bob (Danny Glover does his best despite the material), who crosses state lines into a small town. There's Buck, the paternal sheriff of said small town up for re-election. And look, there's stone-faced FBI Special Agent Frank (lockjawed Dennis Quaid), who's going all out on this case because the murderer kidnapped his son. Screenwriting by the numbers.

The problem is that Stuart doesn't know how to add them up. Prototypes of characters won't move your story from A to B, so Stuart works from B to A, cutting and pasting plot elements as needed to fulfill the pat resolution Hi-Lited in his notebook. You want a guy's medical backstory? Have a stranger drop at his feet. Plan to incapacitate your villain? Have him tell someone where the kid is in a "by the way" aside. Need your villain to remain above suspicion? Make him beloved and cherished wherever he goes (Hey, it's Bob!). On the other hand, you will be thankful for the febrile flashback used to ziplock the plot -- it means this seemingly endless film is grinding to a halt.

--Robert Furlong

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