In the mean, flashy revenge thriller "Richochet," which opened Friday at neighborhood theaters, Denzel Washington plays Nick Styles, a police officer who makes an arrest during an amusement-park shootout.
This event is memorable because it leads to the incarceration of the crazed Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow), because it greatly advances Nick's career and because Nick contrives to do it while stripped down to his skivvies.
The film, while supposedly concentrating on the war of nerves between Nick and Earl, also concocts as many excuses as possible for Mr. Washington to show off his fine physique.
As a consequence of the arrest, within the film's media-mad universe, Nick somehow becomes the most famous person in southern California. He is constantly on television. And of course Earl is constantly watching.
Eventually, he stages a brutal jailbreak and returns to punish Nick for, among other things, landing himself and his happy family on the cover of a magazine called Upscale.
Mr. Washington is appealing enough to get away with anything, even a plot that has him trying to build a children's center in the midst of all the story's sadism and turmoil.
Mr. Lithgow is too good an actor to be relegated to the psycho beat, but he approaches his role with suitable glee.
Starring Denzel Washington and John Lithgow.
Directed by Russell Mulcahy.
Released by Warner Bros.