Verdict is in: 'Juror' is a snore With Demi Moore pitted against the mob, you have no reason to hope for any surprises.

February 02, 1996|By Chris Kridler | Chris Kridler,SUN STAFF

Woman in peril. Sexy psycho. Best friend. Threatened kid.

Ho-hum.

"The Juror" pits an honest artist against a Mafia manipulator and takes its characters from New York to Guatemala, but no amount of scenery or slickness can disguise its predictable plot.

Demi Moore plays Annie, a sculptor in the long Hollywootradition of characters who live far better than their incomes permit (you should see this starving artist's house!). While her tactile creations are interesting, she is unaccountably bland. She's a single mom, though how she got that way is never really explored.

She's also incredibly naive when she's called to serve on a jury in a Mafia trial. "I need a little excitement," she tells her son. Duh!

During jury selection, there's an awful lot of jolly laughter in the courtroom when she's being questioned by the judge. Did someone fail to notice that the crime lord is on trial for particularly vicious murders?

Of course, the Mafia guys -- who are all, incidentally, bad "Godfather" caricatures -- aren't just going to take the fall.

They set Alec Baldwin's mysterious villain upon Annie, to threaten everything she loves, including her son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and her chum Juliet (Anne Heche), unless she not only deadlocks the jury, but persuades it to acquit.

So we're subjected to a long, mostly obvious ordeal in which Demi's son and best friend are continually put in danger while Baldwin listens and watches her every move.

It's the kiss of death to be the best friend in your basic thriller, and God help you if you're an interesting best friend. Heche is both, as a quirky doctor who likes a good time, so you know she's going to buy it. There goes one shock.

The film actually gets more interesting when the trial is over, when the sculptor in distress realizes that whacked-out Baldwin doesn't intend to let her life go back to normal. Then Annie must find her backbone, but the consequences aren't particularly novel, either. Demi Moore, as usual, does a fine job of playing Demi Moore.

Directed by Brian Gibson ("What's Love Got To Do With It?"), the film creeps along without ever being creepy.

Only Baldwin touches the level of nasty, cold-blooded intensity the film needs. He has a knack for playing charismatic madmen (as in "Malice" or "Miami Blues," a much better film), but the total lack of surprises in "The Juror's" plot undoes his good

performance.

'The Juror'

Starring Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin

Directed by Brian Gibson

Released by Columbia

Rated R (violence, language, brief nudity)

... **

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