Even good actors are entitled to load a dud once in a while--especially in July. Blown Away is the summer's second action picture pitting a mad bomber against a cop, but the fireworks this time around are limited to the explosive charges that wacko Irish terrorist Tommy Lee Jones plants in computers, ships, cars, kids' toys and stereo sets. Neither Jones's single-minded avenger nor the Boston bomb-squad whiz played by Jeff Bridges ever lights the movie's dramatic fuse.
In fact, Keanu and Hopper and that little speeding bus number out in L.A. start to look pretty good by comparison.
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There's a ton of chaos and confusion in the present bomb-a-thon, and most of it comes straight out of Joe Batteer's and John Rice's messy script and director Stephen Hopkins's frequently baffling sense of continuity. Between detonations, not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could figure out how characters get so swiftly from place to place, how they know certain things, or why they so stubbornly refuse to take the most rudimentary precautions.
Oh, well. If you want to see a derelict ocean liner blown to smithereens, along with a couple of paddy wagons, a jail cell or two and, possibly, the entire Boston Symphony Orchestra, you've come to the right theater. Because in Blown Away, all of Beantown is booby-trapped, one way or another. That includes the obligatory cocky police partner (Forest Whitaker), the artistic wife (Suzy Amis), son-of-the-Old-Sod Lloyd Bridges--who's grizzled out in a flowing white beard as well as a brogue that's superior to son Jeff's come-and-go model--and a wedding reception so super-Irish my pal Fogarty would call it a cliche.
Hey, even the bomb cop's own past has some loose sticks of dynamite lying around in it.
For variety, the movie takes a lame swipe at Catholic guilt, but you can forget that. The battle of wills and wits between Jones and Bridges the Younger has all the power of a popgun, but the explosion scenes--all 400 of them--work pretty well. Bring earplugs and prepare to meet thy doom.