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Boiling Point

Promoted as a hard-action film for Wesley Snipes fans, "Boiling Point" turns out to be an old-fashioned police procedural drama. Low-key and bland in the extreme, it's strictly for film buffs, although the Snipes name should ensure strong first-week B.O. from action enthusiasts.

Promoted as a hard-action film for Wesley Snipes fans, “Boiling Point” turns out to be an old-fashioned police procedural drama. Low-key and bland in the extreme, it’s strictly for film buffs, although the Snipes name should ensure strong first-week B.O. from action enthusiasts.

Film’s ho-hum nature is a disappointment for fans of writer-director James B. Harris, who, like his former partner Stanley Kubrick, only directs a feature about every seven years. In his zeal to re-create the mood and fine character acting of 1940s film noir, Harris seems to have forgotten about excitement and visual flair.

Snipes toplines as a U.S. treasury agent partnered with Dan Hedaya. The third man on their team is killed by ruthless thug Viggo Mortensen, who gets away with teammate Dennis Hopper before the feds can close in.

Because of the fouled-up stakeout, Snipes is reprimanded by boss James Tolkan and reassigned from L.A. to Newark. He holds out for one week’s time to catch the killers and, coincidentally, ex-con Hopper is given one week to come up with $ 50,000 he owes gangster Tony Lo Bianco.

Loaded with false irony and spurious coincidences, Harris’ mechanical screenplay emphasizes the parallel lives of the two main characters to an almost laughable extent. Throughout the picture, Snipes keeps running into Hopper, neither knowing that the one is methodically hunting down the other.

Primary inversion of the script is that the audience’s sympathy is gradually built up in favor of weasely Hopper, a con man and fast talker in his 50s who’s clearly running out of options.

Because of terrific acting down to the smallest role, audience interest is maintained despite the minimalist direction and lack of story twists. Particularly through maniacal killer Mortensen’s careful underplaying, the film builds suspense and a sense of dread that never pay off.

Hopper creates a memorable small-time rogue who’s a romantic at heart and has a fondness for dancing to big-band music. Snipes is stuck in a one-dimensional role.

Valerie Perrine is touching as the woman Hopper once put out on the street to pay his debts. Lolita Davidovich doesn’t have much to work with in a patently unbelievable character. Seymour Cassel and Jonathan Banks are on the money as criminal types.

Pic looks nondescript (it reportedly had a $ 9 million budget with French financing).

Boiling Point

(U.S.-French -- Police drama -- Color)

  • Production: A Warner Bros. release of a Hexagon Films production. Produced by Marc Frydman, Leonardo de la Fuente. Executive producers, Rene Bonnell, Olivier Granier. Co-producer, Patrick Beaufront. Co-executive producer, Philippe Maigret. Directed, written by James B. Harris, based on Gerald Petievich's novel "Money Men."
  • Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color; Technicolor prints), King Baggot; editor, Jerry Brady; music, Cory Lerios, John D'Andrea; production design, Ron Foreman; art direction, Russ Smith; set decoration, Rick Caprarelli; costume design, Molly Maginnis; sound (Dolby), Russell C. Fager; assistant director, Jules Lichtman; line producer, Ramsey Thomas; additional editor, Dick Williams; aerial camera, David Butler, Rexford Metz; stunt coordinator, Chuck Waters; casting, Al Guarino. Reviewed at Loews 34th St. Showplace 2 theater, N.Y., April 16, 1993. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 90 min.
  • With: Jimmy ... Wesley Snipes Red Diamond ... Dennis Hopper Vikki ... Lolita Davidovich Ronnie ... Viggo Mortensen Brady ... Dan Hedaya Virgil Leach ... Seymour Cassel Max ... Jonathan Banks Carol ... Christine Elise Tony Dio ... Tony Lo Bianco Mona ... Valerie Perrine Levitt ... James Tolkan Transaction man ... Paul Gleason Connie ... Lorraine Evanoff