BLEND A BIG COP flick (two cops, psycho running wild) with a Disney special (two men on rugged terrain, trained animals running wild) and you have Roger Spottiswoode's "Shoot to Kill." Distributed by Disney's Buena Vista Productions and produced and co-written by Daniel ("Beverly Hills Cop") Petrie Jr., "Shoot" is too BB gun for "Lethal Weapon," yet too brutal for Grizzly Adams.
This psycho's a diamond thief also versed in robbery, killing and kidnaping (thanks to years of watching movies like "Lethal Weapon") who will do anything to be pursued by Box Office Names (Sidney Poitier, Tom Berenger), even if it means killing the hostage after he gets what he wants. Now he's in the Pacific Northwest, heading for the Canadian border with a bag of stones and holding trail guide Sarah (Kirstie Alley) hostage.
It's a job for two dissimilar people: Warren Stantin (Poitier) is aging, city-bred, black and into ballet. John Knox (Berenger) is Sarah's boyfriend: young, Outward Bound, white and into eating rodents. The mission: 1) Kill the Psycho hiding out in different genres (Cop Movie, then Disney Special, then Cop Movie); 2) bicker, then bond in the woods.
Actually, Spottiswoode's film has its moments. "Shoot" opens in mid-drama with Stantin and the killer facing off in a hostage- negotiating encounter. The scene's powered by stylish editing and tight shots of Poitier's grim expression as he caters to the whims of a madman. Later, there are some memorable suspense scenes in the wilderness (involving precarious ledges, involuntary rock climbing over raging white water and a mad grizzly), although it's more the visceral pleasures of the big screen that make them work (on cable, this film will be renamed "Pea-Shoot to Kill").
Principals Poitier and Berenger do what they can in this trail-mix genre (originally titled "Mountain King"). It is a pleasure to see Poitier ending a 10-year movie absence to work -- and work colorlessly: Aside from one or two comic allusions to his race, he's the Big Cop, not the Intelligent Black Man. Berenger puts thoughtful finish on the rough-edged Knox. Together, they get through the requisite male bonding with diverting, if predictable, city-country banter, but eventually it gets lonely out there in the wilderness. Especially if you sat really far from the popcorn counter.
SHOOT TO KILL (R) -- At area theaters.