'Pulp' transplant kills the patient

October 17, 1997|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

David Duchovny is playing God?

Unfortunately, no. That would be interesting, certainly more interesting than this hopeless hodgepodge of violent-movie cliches that so badly wants to be "Pulp Fiction," it's a wonder director Andy Wilson didn't have his first name legally changed to Quentin.

Duchovny is Eugene Sands, an L.A. surgeon who enjoyed taking drugs more than prescribing them -- a predilection that leaves him defrocked and de-humanized.

But after saving a dude's life one night with some impromptu barroom surgery, he catches the fancy of real bad guy Raymond Blossom (Timothy Hutton), who likes the idea of having a doc on his payroll. That way, when one of his thugs gets pumped full of lead, doc can patch 'em up without having to worry about hospitals, cops and other such inconveniences.

Doc Sands starts off thinking this ain't so bad, but soon realizes it is. Then the FBI shows up and forces him to turn double agent.

Then all heck breaks loose.

Parallels with "Pulp Fiction" are many; in fact, watching for them is more fun than watching the movie. There's the pair of goons who engage in extraordinarily meaningless small talk whilst on their way to a murder; there's the gangster's moll (Angelina Jolie, who's no Uma Thurman) who falls for the new guy her boss brings in. There's the over-the-top, comic-book feel (although this one's more like the "Batman" TV series as directed by Sam Peckinpah).

Duchovny has a nice screen presence, as a sort of disaffected but honorable anti-hero, but it's pretty much wasted here. His fans shouldn't fret, however: "The X-Files" has its season premiere two weeks from Sunday.

'Playing God'

Starring David Duchovny, Timothy Hutton, Angelina Jolie

Directed by Andy Wilson

Released by Touchstone

Rated R (language, violence)

Sun score: * 1/2

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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