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‘Next of Kin’ (R)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 21, 1989

He may not be dancing, but he's dirtier than ever. Patrick Swayze straps on Charlie Bronson's revenge-o-matic when a mobster kills his hillbilly brother in "Next of Kin," a vigilante thriller that pits the code of the hills against the Cosa Nostra. It is a middling gun play that asks and answers the persistent question: Whither testosterone?

Hips quiescent, hair tied back, accent countrified, Swayze makes a believable grudge drudge in this eye- for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye adventure. He plays Truman Gates, a Chicago cop originally from somewheres around Harlan County who with his tightknit kin takes on the Rosselini clan, which is implicated in his brother's murder.

Forced to choose among his loyalties to the law; his wife (Helen Hunt), the concert violinist; and his bloodthirsty older brother, Briar (slumming Liam Neeson), Truman hopes to bring Joey Rosselini to justice. Old Briar thinks it ain't fittin'. "You ain't family no more. You jist a cop who come from the hills," he says when Truman resists retribution, backwoods style. But blood is thicker than spaghetti sauce, and boys jist gotta use guns.

Directed by John Irvin of "Raw Deal" (an earlier version of this movie), "Next of Kin" hasn't got the firepower or the pace to wow fans of the genre. And who ever heard of an action guy married to a concert violinist? It jist ain't fittin'.

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