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Judgment Night

Directed by Stephen Hopkins. Starring Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding, Denis Leary, Stephen Dorff, Jeremy Piven.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 22, 1993

Bang. Bang. Click... ahhh, shit. Misfire.... That's about the feeling one gets from Hopkins's take on the venerable fish-out-of-water cum chase subgenre, a film that poses the burning question, “Can four burgeoning yuppies survive in the backstreet wilds of Chicago with nothing but their wits and some wry one-liners?” On their way to a boxing match in a loaner RV, Estevez and friends take a wrong turn into yuppie hell when they unintentionally witness the murder of a young drug runner at the hands of kingpin Denis Leary. Before you can say “Cindy Crawford,” Leary and his thugs are after our intrepid suburbanites and the proverbial chase is on. Suddenly, we're on very, very familiar ground. Basically a rehashing of previous genre films, Hopkins borrows heavily from such superior efforts as Philip Kaufman's The Wanderers (minus that film's gang motif, natch) hoping that no one will notice. It's hard not to, though (even Hopkins's gel-drenched cinematography seems lifted from elsewhere). As the irredeemably evil Fallon, comedian Leary is top-notch, making a serious mark for himself as an excellent bad guy, but then, that's hardly enough to carry an entire film. As his cronies are vanquished one by one (John Woo's recent Hard Target comes to mind), Fallon's obsessive quest to eliminate witnesses comes to seem more and more like utter madness -- but then, maybe that's the point. It's hard to tell amidst the layered gunfire and random explosions. Estevez performs admirably (given the situation), but it's Cuba Gooding, Jr. who unintentionally steals the show with frequent shocked facial expressions that put one in mind of Macaulay Culkin's mugging in the Home Alone films(!). Forget this. Go rent The Wanderers again, instead.
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