Writer-director Brian De Palma’s Blow Out is a frequently exciting $18 million suspense thriller which suffers from a distracting emphasis upon homages to other motion pictures.
Travolta appears as a Philadelphia-based sound man working out of his studio on low-budget horror films. Film turns serious with plot of Travolta caught up in a murder and coverup scheme when the tire of a politician’s car is blown out by a rifle shot at a bridge where he is recording sounds.
Saving a young woman (Nancy Allen) from drowning in the car, Travolta’s fate becomes entwined with hers as he uses his professional expertise to unravel the murder mystery while both of them dodge the assassin (John Lithgow).
With attractive leads and a stylish flair for suspense, De Palma misses sustaining involvement by his distracting allusions to prior films (ranging broadly from Blowup to Touch of Evil).
Travolta scores with a combo of intensity and naturalism in the sympathetic lead role, but co-star Allen is stuck essaying a helpless loser instead of the romantic teammate favored by De Palma’s avowed mentor, Alfred Hitchcock.