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Movie Review : Madigan Builds 'Nowhere To Hide'

September 07, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

Amy Madigan's star standing, to some extent, is sabotaged by her own best qualities as an actress: she's too good, too real, for most of the movies made right now. Madigan's straight-up behavioral purity doesn't fit the usual '80s coy sex comedy or car-crash picture; she'd make most of them look phonier than they do already. She's capable of such compelling displays of fury and pain, such tight-lipped macha bravura, that she's out of sync with the standard empty-hearted big studio product.

In "Nowhere to Hide" (citywide), a kind of sub-Costa Gavras thriller about a military cover-up--she almost carries the movie. Playing a widowed young mother trying to elude the shadowy killers of her Marine major husband, she gives all her scenes a terrifying focus, loads them with pent-up sorrow and rage. Madigan's face has an angular fierceness, and her nerves seem rubbed raw. In scene after scene--as she flees the network of killers with her stricken-mute 6-year-old son (Robin MacEachern), through a series of paranoid traps, murders and betrayals--she wrings bitter drops of emotional truth out of each formula moment.

In a way, despite its expose of military expenditures and corruption, "Nowhere to Hide," is a standard car-crash picture too. Certainly, by the time of the ludicrous helicopter-chase finale--which defies any justification but leftover funds in the stunt-pilot budget--it's a movie that has accumulated more cliches and dubious scenes than original ones. If it works somewhat, it's mostly because of Madigan, partly because of newcomer Mario Azzopardi's tense, moody direction and partly because of the supporting cast: especially John Colicos as an ambivalently kind general and Michael Ironside as a tormented survivalist vet.

But, as an action picture, "Nowhere to Hide" (MPAA rated R for language and violence) has nothing special. It's the same formula carnage we see endlessly--and some of it, like that finale, probably would have been better dropped. But Azzopardi does get, for this genre, unusual depth in the more intimate scenes.

His camera prowls pantherlike through the dull, prosaic interiors--lit with metallic coolness by cinematographer Vic Sarin--or withdraws outside to a discreetly edgy distance. The backgrounds are the ones that inundate modern revenge thrillers: bare suburban houses, bars and military bases.

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