The Austin Chronicle

Blown Away

Directed by Stephen Hopkins. Starring Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Lloyd Bridges, Forest Whitaker, Suzy Amis, John Finn, Stephi Lineburg.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 1, 1994

If Speed is the cartoon, Saturday-matinee film of the summer thus far, then Blown Away is its smarter older brother; the largest action-movie explosion ever filmed (600 gallons of gas and 32 16-ounce bombs in a scuttled frigate), a compelling story, and some edgy acting from both Bridges and Jones. Not a bad mix at all. The younger Bridges plays Jimmy Dove, a Boston PD Bomb Squad hotshot who's finally decided to throw in the towel and trade his C4 technique for a wife and daughter. Too bad his timing's off: terrorist bomber Ryan Gaerity (Jones) has broken out of an Irish prison and has taken up residence in Boston. Aching with mysterious vendettas, Gaerity single-handedly begins taking out members of the elite bomb squad one by one, working his way back to Dove, with whom he has a long-standing feud. Texan Jones has always been a considerable talent to reckon with, but here he pulls out all the proverbial stops, imbuing his character with a fevered glee and a mad caper: he dances, he sings, he likes U2, he drinks like a fish, and he blows things up real, real good. Supposedly from a radical IRA splinter group, it's no wonder his fellows in struggle wouldn't have him -- he's like one of his own crazy-genius bombs, ready to go off at any moment with no forewarning. (On a side note, his wonderfully complex fuse for the largest bomb of all is a Rube Goldberg delight made from a child's colorful marble and trough maze; imagine old Geppetto as the Devil, hot-wiring poor Pinocchio to a ton of plastique.) There are a few weak links in the chain though. Dove and Gaerity's backstory has as many holes in it as an IRA victim, and, swerving from Boston to Eire and back, some character's accents slip and slide from one to the other. Jeff Bridges has a tendency to overact at times, but this serves him well as a character hobbled by past failures and future terrors. He's as off-kilter as the man he's tracking. Whitaker, as Dove's replacement on the squad, is a cocky maverick, playing the hero and loving every minute of it, but you'd think by now he'd have learned to steer clear of IRA terrorists. Guess not. Poetic, lyrical, and very, very loud, Blown Away could end up being the perfect counterpoint to Keanu Speed's cartoon shoot 'em up. Now we wait for True Lies.

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