'Fled': reason enough to make a run for the door

Movie review

July 19, 1996|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC

Flee "Fled."

A dispiritingly violent action "comedy," it squanders the great Laurence Fishburne in a low-rent attempt to turn him into exactly what he should not even consider being -- the next Wesley Snipes.

Still impressive with his brooding good looks and simmering masculine power, Fishburne, even slumming, is the only impressive thing in the coarse, gunfight-crazed movie. Think "The Defiant Ones" with guns as rewritten by a nasty 12-year-old and you've got the project nutshelled.

As we meet them, Fishburne and punky little Stephen Baldwin are convicts in the Georgia Penal System, serving on a road gang, who have been punitively chained together. In a bloody escape attempt -- rather confused -- the two get away and all of Georgia, all of the Cuban Mafia and half of the U.S. Marshal's service set out after them.

Sounds like a simple chase thing but the movie turns into nutty twist-o-rama. We learn quickly enough that the escape was essentially phony, the point of which was to spring Baldwin so he could lead interested parties to a hidden computer disk necessary to a federal prosecution; at the same time, the Cubans need the disk to prevent the prosecution and recover $25 million stolen by Baldwin. And then it turns out that tough con Fishburne isn't what he seems, either.

On and on it goes, stopping every seven or eight minutes for a shuddering beating or a huge gunfight, never bothering to make the slightest amount of sense. Fishburne and Baldwin never develop much rapport, a shame since the movie's fulcrum is their rapport. That makes for a long evening.

After Fishburne, the only decent performer is Will Patton as a sly Atlanta cop. Poor Salma Hayek, the Mexican bombshell who made "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" bearable, doesn't turn into a cobra-vampire here, but if she had, it would have helped the movie.

'Fled'

Starring Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Baldwin

Directed by Kevin Hooks Jr.

Released by MGM

Rated R (violence and profanity)

Sun score: *

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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