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‘Boiling Point’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 19, 1993


James B. Harris
Wesley Snipes;
Dennis Hopper;
Lolita Davidovich;
Dan Hedaya;
Viggo Mortensen;
Seymour Cassel;
Jonathan Banks;
Christine Elise;
Tony Lo Bianco;
Valerie Perrine;
James Tolkan
Under 17 restricted

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"Boiling Point" is a bad cable movie -- USA as opposed to HBO -- temporarily masquerading as a theatrical release; even the presence of one hot actor, Wesley Snipes, can't elevate it past lukewarm status. Dennis Hopper, here reduced to an unamusing caricature of himself, further cools things down. The end result, if truth-in-titling were in effect: "Tepid Point."

Snipes plays a Treasury agent whose partner is killed in a sting operation by dimwitted but vicious ex-con Viggo Mortensen, sidekick to Hopper, who plays a failed but persistent con artist. But Hopper is not looking out for Mortensen, only for himself, particularly since a $50,000 mob debt is about to come due. He's clearly a man caught in the muddle.

Snipes is supposedly obsessed with finding his partner's killer, but he looks like he'd rather be playing basketball with Woody Harrelson. Mortensen, on the other hand, barely nods on for his role: If he was one of the Seven Dwarfs, he'd be Sleepy.

Writer-director James B. Harris briefly toys with a commonality between good guys and baddies -- they are all divorced or disconnected from assorted female partners. None, of course, is given any more depth than a cardboard cutout, but in a film that bungles even the sexual stereotypes (Valerie Perrine as the blue-collar dreamer, Lolita Davidovich as the hooker with a heart of gold), this is no surprise.

Maybe Hopper's walkthrough isn't either. After all, this week alone Hopper is on HBO, Showtime and Cinemax in films like "Sunset Heat," "Doublecrossed," "Backtrack" and "Nails" (in which he plays a detective obsessively investigating his partner's death). Unlike those cable ventures, "Boiling Point" never ups the sex and violence antes. Ultimately, the only thing boiling will be the blood of moviegoers trapped in a theater with this plot-boiler.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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