Review: Blown Away

Review: Blown Away

Bomb squad member Jimmy Dove (Jeff Bridges) is just about to begin retirement, but when a new mad bomber appears to be on the loose in Boston, he finds himself drawn back in. Which is just as well, because the mad bomber in question is one Ryan Gaerty (Tommy Lee Jones), an Irish prison escapee fresh in America, who was somewhat of a terrorist back in Belfast (but apparently too crazy for the IRA). The same Gaerty whom fellow expatriate Dove (going by a different name back then) used to idolise as a young man, before his conscience made him realise that this was not the way. Once Gaerty (who has a fondness for Rube Goldberg-esque explosive devices) sees Dove on the TV news, he decides it’s time for a little revenge for what he perceives as past wrongs done to him by Dove. Meanwhile, Dove has to deal with a cocky soon-to-be replacement (Forest Whitaker), and domestic issues with new wife Suzy Amis and their kid. Lloyd Bridges turns up as his real-life son’s uncle (Or was it father? I was never quite sure), a crusty old former cop, while the late Caitlin Clarke, John Finn, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson play Dove’s colleagues, and Cuba Gooding Jr. appears unbilled in an inexplicable cameo as another bomb squad guy.

Tense moments and a few fine performances keep this Stephen Hopkins (“Predator 2”, “Judgement Night”, “A Nightmare on Elm St. 5: The Dream Child”) thriller from 1994 watchable enough. However, the Irish accents are all over the shop, in particular Tommy Lee Jones’, as the talented actor also fails to do much more with his villainous role than he already did in “The Package”. It’s certainly not as much fun to watch him in this as it was in “Under Siege” and it’s probably a performance best forgotten. Lead actress Suzy Amis is even worse, hopelessly wooden and let’s face it, the only thing she’ll ever be remembered for is for being Mrs. James Cameron. I’ve seen beige wallpaper with more personality than here.

Jeff Bridges, however is rock-solid and persuasive, but his character’s past in Ireland seemed unconvincing and underdone to me. I’m not sure if it’s because they didn’t want to piss of the IRA, but Jones’ terrorist background and Bridges’ connection to it all was a bit murky and needlessly complex to me given how little of it we really get to see. Father Lloyd has fun mangling an Irish accent in a lively, if silly performance. It’s fun seeing them share scenes together, though. Forest Whitaker steals his every scene as Bridges the Younger’s supposed replacement.

I liked this more the first time I saw it in cinemas back in 1994, it doesn’t have a whole lot of replay value, unfortunately and I’m going to mark the film down a bit for that. All the bomb-related stuff is well-filmed, as is the gloomy Boston scenery, but the rest is formulaic, rather B-grade stuff. In fact, it’s like an update of Michael Crichton’s awful “Runaway”, minus most of the robots and lame-brained futuristic bent. It’s better than that, though, and better than “Speed” as well (though I appear to be the only human alive who didn’t like “Speed”). With a screenplay by Joe Batteer and John Rice (from a story by them and one M. Jay Roach, AKA Jay Roach, director of “Meet the Parents”), this film’s watchable once, but nothing memorable or original at the end of the day.

Rating: C+


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