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MOVIE CAPSULES

'The Patriot'

September 16, 1986|KEVIN THOMAS

With a plot as murky as its undersea sequences, "The Patriot" (citywide) has the feel of a film that has been drastically chopped. In any event, what's up there on the screen is too incoherent to merit anyone's attention.

It seems that the bad guys, headed by Stack Pierce and secretly guided by Navy career officer Jeff Conaway (an apparent victim of muddled pacifism), are attempting an undersea heist of a nuclear warhead, which, according to Adm. Leslie Nielsen, has "enough megatons to level three cities--and they don't necessarily have to be close together."

Nielsen is trying to recruit Gregg Henry, cast as a disillusioned Vietnam War naval hero, once called The Patriot for his zeal, to head off Pierce et al. The good guys and the bad guys are inexplicably backed by kooks (including Michael Pollard as Henry's pal) that you wouldn't trust with your grandmother's tea cups let alone a nuclear warhead.

Exposition and motivation in "The Patriot" (rated R for routine sex and violence) are virtually nil. Frank Harris directs energetically but in a deadly serious clenched-teeth style that makes virtually every scene play as a parody. Especially deserving of far better are Henry, who was so good as the villain in Brian De Palma's "Body Double," and Pierce, who even here manages to radiate a quiet, intelligent authority.

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