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'The Shadow Conspiracy'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 31, 1997

When Charlie Sheen and Donald Sutherland appear in any movie, you should be wary. Their contracts seem to demand nothing but corny formula.

In this facile, seat-of-power conspiracy thriller, Sheen plays a sort of greasy, tubby George Stephanopoulos, who finds himself in great danger -- and on the run -- from a circle of mysterious men. In the interests of preserving this movie's inane "surprise," we won't get into the details. (Reread movie title, if you're still clueless.)

But the White House aide, who's supposed to be the ultimate genius in terms of getting great media spin for his presidential boss is dumber than a post when it comes to figuring out what's really happening. Linda Hamilton, who looks more and more like Tom Waits after a good shave, plays a by-now familiar archetype, the Investigative Reporter, who helps Sheen figure things out. Or tries to. She ends up playing a '90s bimbo, instead, constantly in need of help.

As the White House chief of staff, Sutherland plays the usual caricature of himself. Whether he's doing car commercials or bad thrillers, his act is exactly the same. If this movie's good for anything, it's for plentiful shots of Washington. There are more local sights than a tour bus guide could stand.

Contains violence, predictability and closeups of Charlie Sheen.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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