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*Also starring: Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz, James Gandolfini, Robert Joy, Aida Turturro, Elias Koteas, Allelon Ruggiero

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1.  Mark Fleming review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
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5.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
6.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review ---

Review by Mark Fleming
3 stars out of 4

An original thriller that puts a twist on the well-worn serial killer theme by introducing the paranormal. While this itself may have been done to death by the X-Files, it works here. Gregory Hoblit's direction is tight, the blend of noirish landscapes and demonic viewpoints is effective, and there is a strong central performance by the ever-reliable Denzel Washington.

That the baddies are fallen angels seeking civilization's destruction requires some plausible force. Washington provides a solid anchor. As John Hobbs, a decent, honest cop who lives with his brother and nephew, he initially treats everything with scepticism. But his outlook gradually changes when he accepts the tangibility of the potent demonic forces facing him. His courage prevails, even when he often appears to be fighting a solitary battle against evil.

John Goodman is Jonesy, his tubby partner who mouths clichés like "somebody's playing with my dick and it ain't me." The twist here is that his jovial personality eventually inherits the evil demon. In time-honoured style, Donald Sutherland plays the cynical police chief.

The storyline is original, combining conspiracy theories with what one character describes as an 'evil spirit Mafia.' Because the spirits travel through touch, in a form of supernatural 'tig,' this makes for some thrilling encounters. Hobbs is hounded up to the climactic scene, pursued by demons and his own colleagues alike.

At time it seems as if pure-hearted Hobbs is alone in tackling this seemingly unbeatable foe. This ensures the suspense it maintained up to the climactic scene.

The film enjoys a similar design to Seven with the shirt-sleeved detectives lurking in offices where it never stops raining beyond the blinds. The tension is maintained by zany technicolour camera angles being used when the demon is on the prowl.

Fallen is an original slant on a familiar theme, elevated by a fine performance by Washington.

Copyright © 2001 Mark Fleming

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