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'Canyon' Chokes On Toxic Plot


After so many addle-brained vendetta movies with right-wing themes, it's weird to see a new one, "Choke Canyon" (selected theaters), flipping to the left. Here--instead of an impervious hunk-hero subduing Southeast Asia--we have a "safe energy" physicist-hero, villainous corporation heads and a heroine who's protesting against pollution.

But "Choke Canyon" is just as ridiculous as its predecessors. For openers, why is this MIT physicist also a munitions expert and one-man demolition squad?

The story seems to be the work of 12-year-olds. Tired 12-year-olds.

We see the hunk-physicist in his "Star Wars" desert lab, living happily with his horse and goat, waiting for Halley's Comet--only to be invaded by evil Pilgrim Corp. villains who are intent on a cover-up. They beat him up, break his gizmos; he responds by pushing their cars off a cliff and holing up with the horse and goat in a cave.

Pilgrim Corp. hires the Captain, a heavy so mean he beats up his own henchmen. Soon a full-scale war is on. But, during a breather, the hero crashes a Pilgrim party and takes the boss' pretty daughter out for hamburgers. Then he kidnaps and locks her in a cellar, and she escapes by climbing out on a pyramid of Coca-Cola cans.

Maybe these writers are 10.

Deciding they like each other, the feuding duo try to rush an incriminating black ball of toxic waste, by helicopter, to the governor's mansion--pursued by the Captain in his World War I biplane.

Try 8-year-olds.

Director Chuck Bail can't get this jaw-dropper to make sense, or even self-parody. But the stunts are exciting, and Bail has a minor flair for eye-filling, sub-Spielberg compositions. His camera would have been better employed, however, staying on the gambols of the horse and goat.

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