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Blown Away is a bomb, despite Boston setting

Blown Away
Directed by Stephen Hopkins.
Written by Joe Batteer and John Rice.
Starring Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Lloyd Bridges, Forest Whitaker,
and Suzy Amis.
Loews Cheri.

By Evelyn Kao

What could be better than a film in which MIT is blown to bits?

Unfortunately, MIT remains intact, and Blown Away is almost a complete disappointment. The film starts off with the head of the Boston Bomb Squad, James Dove (Jeff Bridges) being called to MIT to defuse a bomb in the computer lab. The "computer lab" turns out to be a classroom with many desks and a single PC. The situation can't help but be more amusing than it is scary.

The premise is pretty straightforward: Dove spends the length of the movie trying to catch bad guy Gaerity (Tommy Lee Jones), an escaped prisoner who can make "bombs from Bisquick." Complicating things is the fact that Gaerity holds a long-time grudge against Dove and is out to exact revenge by killing Dove's family, friends, and coworkers. The movie attempts to integrate Boston into the story by using Irish characters, but the Irish element falls flat, and the movie, with its narrow focus, does not find the city. References to Irish culture eventually only seem to be flimsy attempts at believable excuses for the explosions to take place in Boston.

Stephen Hopkins, director of such masterpieces as Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and Predator II, is unable to make his movie credible. This dearth of substance causes the first hour to drag. Tommy Lee Jones is a disappointment as Gaerity, not living up to his performance in The Fugitive. And when Gaerity begins to sing along with U2 one feels embarrassed to see Jones debase himself in such a way. Though it is interesting to watch the interaction between father and son, in Lloyd and Jeff Bridges, the acting is otherwise unremarkable.

The actual explosions save the film from being a total bomb. The frustrations with the characters occasionally find release in their fiery mutilation and destruction. And these tense scenes make the heart beat faster. The recognizable shots of Boston also make the film more interesting. However, these are not enough to compensate for a weak story and flimsy characters, and they don't make this a film worth watching.