TIMOTHY HUTTON makes his way onto the silver screen yet again -- this time as high-tech graffiti artist Jimmy Lynch -- in the hit-and-miss adventure film "Turk 182." No doubt tired of portraying sensitive lads from the upper crust, Hutton spends most of "Turk" doing a painful imitation of Mickey Rourke.

We are fooled for a time by the greasy hair and the "dems," "dese" and "dose." But as soon as it comes time for acting, he reverts to the little tics -- jaw clenching, broken speech patterns, heavy sighs -- that we recognize all too well.

Other than providing an advanced acting exercise for its star, "Turk 182" serves as a novel depiction of one man's quest to beat city hall. The struggle is interesting not because the heroes are appealing, or because their cause seems particularly valid, but because of Robert Culp's expert performance as the villainous mayor of New York.

The film takes off when off-duty firefighter Terry Lynch (Robert Urich) dives into a burning building to save a terrified child. Although Terry is badly hurt during the heroic rescue (we see him hosed out a window in gruesome slow motion), New York City frowns on the alcohol in his bloodstream and refuses to fork over compensatory money. Brother Jimmy (Hutton) appeals to the mayor for help: "My brudda ain't no bum! He deserves better den dis!" but is cruelly rejected.

What follows is a fantastic anti-mayor graffiti campaign: Jimmy strikes on stadium scoreboards, police horses, even the mayor's new "graffiti-proof" subway cars. He always leaves his brother's nickname and stationhouse number (and the film's title) as an autograph.

"Turk" bogs down when Jimmy falls for a perky social worker (the irritating Kim Cattrall) and when Terry starts lurching around hospital rooms. Occasional appearances by Darren McGavin as the peculiar Detective Kowalski and a nice cameo by Paul Sorvino, however, keep the treacle in "Turk 182" to a minimum.

TURK 182 (PG-13) -- At area theaters.