"BLACK MOON RISING," an automotive adventure with Tommy Lee Jones, might appeal to shop-class dropouts, people who do their own lube jobs, and other types you find under cars. But it would be more fun just to stuff a sock up your tail pipe and see how it goes.

The Black Moon is a futuristic racing car, capable of speeds of 350 mph, but the plot never keeps pace with the high-tech hot rod. There are chase scenes, yes, but they are a crashing bore. We are driven, yes, but only to distraction.

Jones, all flinty-eyed under his beetle brows, plays a guy named Quint -- short for squint, maybe. He's a federal agent who comes to the aid of Moon's designers when their prototype is stolen by a ring of car thieves led by former Man from U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughan and Linda Hamilton of "The Terminator."

Quint tailgates the moll till she agrees to help him retrieveBlack Moon from Vaughan's high-security garage. They sneak around underground parking lots and stairwells, look at burglar alarm plans and squeal their tires, erk-erk. It's like really being in a garage. You can practically smell the fumes.

The actors haven't much to do. It looks like everybody needed the work.

John Carpenter cowrote the screenplay, based on his own story. It's his second car movie -- his first was "Christine." Harley Cokliss, whoever he is, directs, with photography by Russian emigre Misha Suslov, adding that gray Soviet touch.

BLACK MOON RISING (R) -- At area theaters.