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‘Terminal Velocity’ (PG-13)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 23, 1994

The ads for the new Charlie Sheen movie, "Terminal Velocity," only get it half right: It's not the fall that kills you, it's the jokes.

Directed by Deran Sarafian, "Terminal Velocity" is the sort of lame-brained, gratingly obnoxious live-action Road Runner cartoon that makes falling out of an airplane look like a welcome relief. Even if it were an in-flight movie, you might consider walking out.

The premise here is as flimsy as it is predictable. Sheen plays a cocky sky-diving instructor named Ditch -- that's right, Ditch -- who is hired for a lesson by a mysterious foreign beauty (Nastassja Kinski). Almost immediately things go wrong, and before Ditch can fire off his first clip of stale one-liners, he finds himself smack in the middle of a plot to heist a plane-load of Russian gold.

The picture, which was written by David Twohy, who co-wrote "The Fugitive," moves briskly, but its combination of daredevil stunts, breathless escapes and witty tag lines is so repetitious that the film seems to last forever.

"Terminal Velocity" could also refer to the speed at which Charlie Sheen's career is plunging earthward. Sheen's character here requires a certain level of stardom that the actor aspires to but has never reached. He can't redeem bad material through sheer force of personality like, say, Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis can. He's a supporting player, and his lack of stature makes "Terminal Velocity" appear undermanned, starless.

As for Kinski, she has only recently returned to regular movie work after taking a break to raise her children. She should've stayed away a little longer.

Terminal Velocity, at area theaters, is rated PG-13.

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