1996, PG-13, 115 min. Directed by Rob Cohen. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya, Jay O. Sanders, Karen Young, Claire Bloom, Barry Newman, Stan Shaw, Vanessa Bell Calloway.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 6, 1996
The spirit of Irwin Allen lives on in this displaced summer blockbuster that posits Stallone and his ever-thickening accent as Kit Latura, the former head of New York City's Emergency Medical Services, who is called back to active duty when a bizarre mishap involving stolen diamonds, out-of-control thugs in a stolen car, and a convoy of trucks taking illicit barrels of highly flammable toxic waste from New York to (where else?) New Jersey collide deep within the Holland Tunnel, setting off a tremendous underground explosion that seals off both the exits and traps a dozen or so innocent people 100 feet below the Hudson. Okay, so it's just your typical day in the Big Apple, but that doesn't mean Hollywood will shy away. Cohen's film starts off promisingly enough, with a swift opening volley of scenes establishing those who are about to be trapped: the lovestruck NYPD officer George Tyrell (Shaw), who spends his beat patrolling the tunnel from within, Madelyne (Brenneman), a frustrated playwright who's on her way out of the city for good when the tunnel collapses, Viggo Mortensen as a spirited businessman more interested in publicity for his sportswear company than anything else, and the wealthy old couple out for a pleasant afternoon drive (acting legend Claire Bloom and Colin Fox). Latura, who fortuitously happens to be driving a Yellow Checker into the tunnel when the disaster occurs, immediately rushes to offer his services when no one else feels like risking their lives. Once in (through a series of deadly giant ventilation fans), Daylight dissolves into an all-too-predictable melange of Stallone's muscle-bound histrionics and disaster-film formulas. Director Cohen has been much-quoted of late regarding his love for Irwin Allen films, and this admiration is on display throughout the film. Indeed, Daylight is little more than a cobbled-together combination of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, snatching the best bits (and, seemingly, whole characters) from those classic A-list disaster epics. Alas, Cohen's film is no classic. Outlandish dialogue from both Stallone and the rest of the cast kept me in stitches throughout, though I suspect that was never the filmmaker's intentions. “You've got to leave me!” “I won't leave you! I can't!” “We can do this if we work… together!” The script fires off clunker after clunker so fast you don't know whether to laugh or cry. (I chose to laugh as I'd already done enough crying at The English Patient.) Vintage bad Stallone, this lost-in-the-shuffle Summer of '96 blockbuster is just what you thought it would be: loud, boisterous, and without a single original line of dialogue. It's enough to make you miss Judge Dredd.