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On The Screen

****: Excellent

***: Good

**: Average

*: Poor

***1/2 The Fugitive

The ultimate chase movie begins with the ultimate special effect -- a train and bus wreck staged not with miniatures, but with the real thing. The wreck frees Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), wrongfully convicted of murder, from the bus transporting him to prison, setting up a two-hour chase between Ford and his pursuer, the dedicated federal marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones). Ford is the big name star, and though he gives a great performance, Jones gets all the good lines. His single-minded devotion to upholding the law makes him, in a strange way, a more interesting character than intelligent nice guy Kimble. "I didn't kill my wife," insists Kimble, trapped in a drainage pipe; "I don't care," replies Gerard, and attempts to bring in his suspect. The Fugitive is an exciting movie, and a well-paced one, too, as Kimble's escapes grow ever more narrow and improbable, eventually leading up to a taut climax and a satisfying ending. For once, the hype was worth the wait. --Deborah A. Levinson. Loews Cheri

**** Glory

Matthew Broderick stars as Colonel Robert Shaw in the drama about the all black 54th Massachusetts Regiment. Broderick is a young officer who is given command of the 54th and works them from a rag-tag group to a true military organization. The film bring to light the inequality with which blacks were treated, even in the North. As Broderick battles to get supplies for his men, some of whom do not even have shoes, we see that not even here are blacks free from oppression. Broderick's performance is well done and full of emotion as he fights against an administration which never plans to allow the 54th onto the battlefield. Denzel Washington also stars in an Oscar winning performance as a run-away slave now serving in the 54th who has difficulties accepting his role as an observer. Morgan Freeman and Cary Elwes also star. --Patrick Mahoney. LSC Sunday

*** Hot Shots! Part Deux

Hot Shots! Part Deux is a parody of parodies. It's a movie that doesn't even try to take itself seriously. It just throws one-liner after one-liner, amusing skit after amusing skit, and stolen plot line after stolen plot line. In a time when sequels are rarely as good as the originals, Hot Shots! Part Deux does not disappoint. Sheen is hilarious in his role as Topper Harley, the ex-navy officer turned eskimo turned commando, on his quest to free American hostages. This movie is entirely implausible, but that's okay because it's not supposed to be. --PM. LSC Saturday

***1/2 In the Line of Fire

Clint Eastwood follows up Unforgiven with this gripping thriller about a Secret Service agent tracking a psycho stalking the president. Eastwood, crusty as ever, plays Frank Horrigan, ostensibly the last active agent present at the Kennedy assassination. John Malkovich brings incredible creepiness to the character of Mitch Leary, an ex-CIA killer obsessed with presidential assassins. Leary torments Horrigan with phone calls mocking Horrigan's inability -- or unwillingness -- to sacrifice himself for Kennedy, and leads the Secret Service on a cross-country chase, always several steps ahead of the game. The script is impressively tight for one not based on a book, and Eastwood and Malkovich both give over-the-top performances. If only Rene Russo's Secret Service agent had more to do than be a foil for Horrigan's sexist remarks and later, be his love interest. --DAL. Loews Nickelodeon

*** Manhattan Murder Mystery

Woody Allen's latest tale of angst-ridden New York intellectuals tells the story of a mild-mannered book editor (Allen) and his energetic but bored wife (Diane Keaton) as they become involved in solving an alleged murder case. As in any Allen film, sexual tensions complement the action, with old friend Ted (Alan Alda) coming on to Keaton's character, and sexpot author Marcia (Anjelica Huston) setting her sights on Allen. The result is $6.75 worth of stakeouts, soulful stares, sexual stress, and silliness. Manhattan Murder Mystery may center upon a rather bland murder plot, but it also provides a tight script, savagely spastic Allen performances, and the excellent supporting cast audiences have come to expect from an Allen film. --Matthew H. Hersch. Loews Harvard Square

*** Much Ado About Nothing

Actor/director Kenneth Branagh once again brings Shakespeare to the big screen, this time with a frothy comedy set in a sun-drenched Tuscan villa. Though the list of supporting cast members is impressive -- Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, and Brian Blessed, to name a few -- all are outshown by Branagh's Oscar-winning wife, Emma Thompson. As sharp-tongued Beatrice, Thompson steals nearly every scene she's in; every scene, that is, except those with Branagh, who plays certified bachelor Benedick. The screen fairly sparkles when the pair is on and conversely, is merely ordinary when they are not. Of course, this is not so much the fault of the actors or directors as it is of the play, which surrounds Beatrice and Benedick with a cast of one-note characters (particularly lovers Claudio and Hero, who define young, beautiful, and vapid). The cinematography, however, is lush and gorgeous, and Branagh brings a lightness to Shakespeare's often slapstick and off-color humor that makes the film well worth watching. --DAL. Loews Cheri