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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Hero

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis
Director: Stephen Frears
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: October 1992
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Andy Garcia, Joan Cusack, Kevin J. O'Connor, Maury Chaykin, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christian Clemenson, Tom Arnold, Warren Berlinger, Susie Cusack

Review by Mark Fleming
3½ stars out of 4

A well-played satire on media obsessions, and the public's often-unhealthy appetite for celebrity adulation. Bernie Laplante (Dustin Hoffmann), a small-time crook, happens to break down on a bridge just as a plane plummets into the river before him. Against his ingrained character traits, he soon finds himself amongst the shattered fuselage, dragging passengers to safety, including, as fate would have it, Channel 4's ratings-hungry presenter (Geena Davis). Although the eternally suspicious Laplante skulks away from prying eyes, Channel 4 has soon picked up on this 'Angel of Flight 104', offering one million dollars for his story. Except they get their story from a fraud (Andy Garcia). The lionisation of this fake hero is where the movie really shifts into gear. Interest in this apparent rags-to-riches success reaches fever pitch. At one point John visits a children's ward, touching patients like a Messiah and waking a child from a coma. Davis falls for him. Laplante, a petty criminal, who deep down loves his family, finally proves himself the true hero, once again, when a disillusioned John prepares to throw himself from a ledge.

Hoffmann carries the film. Laplante holds the key to his own redemption, but this is continually snatched away from him. His multi-layered character is a bundle of Woody Allenesque insecurities, with a professional thief's beady eyes. (He is introduced swiping his own lawyer's purse in the middle of a courtroom.) But he also gives his villain a heart, without ever lapsing into sentimentality. Davis excels as Gail Gayley, a cynical newsreader who falls for the handsome man her news channel has fashioned into a public hero from a hobo. Andy Garcia is also excellent as John Bubber, an opportunist with a conscience.

Copyright 2001 Mark Fleming

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