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DETOX

Review by Andrew Manning (11/99)

Release: 2000, Universal
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert Patrick, Charles Dutton, Polly Walker, Sean Patrick Flanery, Tom Berenger
Director: Jim Gillespie
MPAA Rating: [not yet rated] (most likely R for violence/language)
Genre: Action/Thriller

Release Date: The original release date for this film was December 1999. Then, it was pushed back to February 2000, then September 2000, and now March 2001. This comes as little surprise: they must be reworking the film because it sucks. Unfortunately, there is little hope for this movie. They would have to re-write the script and re-shoot about 90% of the scenes to make it watchable. I've also recently been informed that the title of this movie has been changed to the lame ass "Eye See You."



SUMMARY


After losing his partner and wife at the hands of a homicidal maniac, FBI agent Jake Malloy (Stallone) checks into a rehabilitation clinic for cops. Set in the wilderness of Wyoming, the isolated rehab facility is snowed in during a particularly violent blizzard. Without warning, the patients are mysteriously murdered one by one, and finally, Malloy must confront the killer--presumably the same one who killed his wife and partner.


THE SEVEN-SECOND RUNDOWN


The murders are suspenseful in an Aliens sort of way, but the killer is lame, the story is lame, and the characters are lame.


WHAT'S GOOD


Detox is one of those movies where an ensemble band of diverse archetypes is trapped in a dreary location with an axe murderer loose "somewhere in the building." Structurally, this movie resembles Aliens, except we have cops instead of space cadets, a burnt out military facility instead of a spaceship, and a homicidal guy instead of a giant alien that lays eggs in your chest. And there's all the typical characters you'd expect: the gung-ho jerk who doesn't care about anyone but himself (Terminator 2's Robert Patrick), the coward looking for redemption, the rookie who couldn't stand the heat during his first brush with gruesome mortality. There's even the Butch Latina a la Vasquez in Aliens--expect here she's named Sanchez.

Despite how formulaic all of this sounds, I really don't mind it in this setting. It works, and my favorite part about Detox is how they duplicate that tight, claustrophobic, "who's gonna die next?" syndrome found in most horror movies. In fact, I was downright enjoying watching the characters get slaughtered one by one...that is, until I noticed that I didn't really care about any of them.

Director Jim Gillespie is obviously no stranger to schlock horror, what with being responsible for the painfully generic I Know What You Did Last Summer, and it shows here: Detox is often times more horror movie than action thriller, full of cheap shocks and elaborately gross deaths.

Well, that just about does it for the "good"...



WHAT'S BAD


None of the characters in Detox are particularly sympathetic, or even interesting. Even Stallone's character comes across flat. The sum of his emotional torment (and thus, the reason for his turning to alcoholism and ending up in the rehab facility) is supposed to be relayed through a series of flashbacks in which we see him dealing with the gruesome deaths of his partner and his wife. The problem is, we don't give a damn about the partner or the wife. They are both a series of watered down memories that have no impact on us, and so we have an almost impossible time of relating to Rocky's problems. Seeing him laughing with his wife as they spin around merrily in the living room doesn't cut it. She could have been a one-night stand to him as far as we're concerned. Chalk it up to poor character development.

Then there's Stallone's current partner, played by Charles Dutton. After dropping off Stallone at Rehab Central, he goes back into town, and when the blizzard hits, he spends the entire movie trying to get back to the facility. "Trying" is the operative word here, as he never makes it back in time to be of any use. There's absolutely no reason for his character to even be in the movie. He's simply a distraction the camera cuts to for no apparent reason. Imagine watching a film in which every fifteen minutes, it cut to a shot of ice melting in a bowl. That's about as meaningful and logical as Dutton's character in Detox. HE DOESN'T DO ANYTHING, FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

Worst of all, though, is the killer--a totally inane, wannabe Kevin Spacey from Seven. After all of the build up, you'd expect a murderous genius with a monumental agenda of the philosophical, political, or even financial persuasion. Instead, when Stallone confronts him and asks why he killed his wife and partner, the answer given is this: "Because you had so much to lose." WHAT? Not even real life killers are pointless enough to slash people up for this "reason." I think this takes the prize for All Time Worst Murderer Motivation in Cinematic History. If I'm not mistaken, a lot of FBI agents have partners and spouses, so I don't know why this would make Stallone a stand-out who has "the most to lose." Jeez, Bill Gates has a family and over $100 billion, and you don't see people killing him "just because he has a lot to lose."

With such character and plot shortcomings plaguing it at every turn, Detox is ultimately a pointless endeavor. The story is flimsy, the characters are uninteresting, and the murder scenes lack any glimmer of ingenuity. On the Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Willis scale, this movie Sucks Slightly More Than Planet Hollywood.


Rating: 3 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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