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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Daylight

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Viggo Mortensen
Director: Rob Cohen
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: December 1996
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Vanessa Bell Calloway, Trina McGee-Davis, Stan Shaw, Sage Stallone, Rosemary Forsyth, Renoly Santiago, Mark Rolston, Marcello Thedford

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Walter Frith read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

A decade ago, when I worked for Apple, there was a group of software designers who regularly went en masse to a select movie genre. They picked out shows sure to be terrible and then had a great time laughing in unison at them. I thought of this group as I suffered through Sylvester Stallone latest action thriller, DAYLIGHT. I lost count of how many times I laughed out loud at the wrong places. Characters were dying, and I could not keep from laughing; the circumstances were so ridiculous.

One could make a cogent argument that action films should be evaluated mainly on the special effects and the stunts. By that metric, DAYLIGHT delivers. Not a great special effects movie, but a perfectly acceptable one. In the best part, a firestorm barbecues everything in its path. Not quite as impressive as in CHAIN REACTION, but still pretty awesome. Personally, I found the action sequences in DAYLIGHT more tedious than exhilarating, but maybe I am too demanding.

DAYLIGHT is set in a gritty New York City, where we see its caste system. Society is dichotomized into the superrich and the struggling underclass. On the upper end of the scale, is the founder of an athletic clothing company. He drives a Hummer and believes himself to be invincible. At the other end is a struggling playwright, Madelyne Thompson (Amy Brenneman from CASPER and FEAR). Her freezing cold apartment has cockroaches on her kitchen counter and rats in her sock drawer. Go ahead, guess which one of these characters will survive and which will perish.

In a cliche infested story, we have a convoy of truckers taking toxic waste through the Holland Tunnel on way to New Jersey to dump it. Also in the tunnel are a bus load of convicts and cars full of assorted other inhabitants of The Big Apple.

Three kids with wildly colored hair and conspicuous body jewelry rob a diamond messenger and steal his car. In my favorite scene in the show, he sends a threatening fax to his stolen car. Now, there is a concept -- faxes as car burglar alarm replacements. To evade the police the driver takes the Holland Tunnel, driving as though on a Kamikaze mission. So wild-eyed is the driver that, as he hits every car in the tunnel, I began to wonder if the film was intended as a parody of bad action movies. The car, of course, takes a flying leap into the drums of toxic waste, causing the obligatory explosion and trapping a stratified cross section of the city's citizens.

Near the entrance to the tunnel is limo driver Kit Lauria (Stallone). Kit used to be the head of New York City's Emergency Medical Services, but he tried too hard to save some people and failed. In the ensuing scandal, he was fired. In charge now is a gung-ho new chief "from California." When his troops do not agree with his tunnel rescue plan, he barks at them, "You listen to me. The person who says it can't be done is always interrupted by the person who just did it." The script by Leslie Bohem (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5) is full of such inanities. Soon our California macho man is toast, and Kit comes to save the day.

They should have a place for you to check your brain in the lobby of the theater. I lost count of all the nonsensical parts. Consider just two typical examples.

First, the only way to enter the tunnel is for Kit to go through a set of twenty foot wide exhaust fans. The fans are computer controlled and can be stopped only once and for just three minutes. After that, there is no way to stop them ever again. No computer command and no way to cut the power. Sure.

Second, the characters are warned about the dangers of hypothermia since they spend most of their time in the 37 degree water. How many times do they get cold? Once.

Perhaps the least believable character is the bureaucrat who wants to take an action that will kill the trapped survivors. Her motivation is to relieve the traffic congestion the explosion has caused. She explains, "The tunnel is an artery. The city is bleeding."

The seriousness which director Rob Cohen (DRAGONHEART) attaches to this farce could be summed up by one of the convicts. While death seems imminent, Vincent, played by Stallone's son Sage, starts putting the moves on another woman trapped in the tunnel. He asks, "Listen, if we don't die in here, I wondered if I could give you a call?"

DAYLIGHT runs too long at 1:55. It is rated PG-13 for numerous scenes of death and destruction. If your kids can not handle heavy violence, do not take them to this show. My guess is that this means the film is not for anyone under at least ten. I enjoyed laughing at the ludicrousness of the picture, but I would not suggest that anyone else have to sit through this preposterous story. I give the movie * 1/2 only for the action sequences.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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