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'Cutthroat Island'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 22, 1995


Renny Harlin
Geena Davis;
Matthew Modine;
Frank Langella;
Maury Chaykin;
Patrick Malahide;
Stan Shaw
light violence

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What the world really needed, according to Geena Davis and husband-filmmaker Renny Harlin, was a pirate picture, starring Davis as a high-seas swashbuckler.

But "Cutthroat Island," which Harlin directed and, yes, Davis stars in, has to rank with scurvy as an appealing experience.

In this lifeless 17th-century adventure, able-bodied pirate Davis inherits her father's galleon. Her dying Dad also bequeaths her a partial treasure map. The map, which includes a Latin inscription, is tattooed on his scalp, so it has to be cut from his head. Learning that Matthew Modine, a professional scoundrel up for slave's auction, knows Latin, she buys him.

It takes a two-hour act of will to keep facing the screen during this moribund movie. Every cliffhanger is enough to make you a cliff jumper. Davis and Modine are almost transcendentally unappealing, as they weather dull sword fights, ship-to-ship exchanges (with treasure-seeking rival Frank Langella) and other action-movie banalities. As for the six rogues who are credited as scriptwriters, they have at least two things to be grateful for: They got paid for this junk and, in Hollywood, there are no gangplanks.

Rated PG-13. Contains light violence.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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