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MOVIE REVIEW : Gun-Obsessed Hero in 'Jackson'

February 12, 1988|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

"Action Jackson" (citywide) is slick. It's fast. It's violent. It's loud.

And it's bad. Not ba-a-a-d. Bad in that dispiritingly well-mounted, press-all-the-buttons way that occasionally pulls in big audiences. It's a generic action movie with more guns than brains, more car crashes than coherence and more opportunism than originality.

The central conflict is between two violently improbable, and improbably violent, caricatures: Jericho (Action) Jackson and Peter Dellaplane, played by Carl Weathers and Craig T. Nelson--who give these threadbare sticks more authority than they merit.

Dellaplane is a kung fu maniac with a blond wife. Jackson is a Detroit cop, ex-track athlete and Harvard Law School graduate.

Jackson, stripped of rank and gun through Dellaplane's chicanery, is put onto a heinous Dellaplane plans to assassinate officials in the autoworkers' union and use it as a power base to rule the country.

Obviously, only Action Jackson can stop him. Even more incredibly, he drags along Vanity, as a drug-addicted prostitute chanteuse.

Adding to this inane plot are numbers of ludicrous scenes. The movie projects an almost pornographic fascination with guns and weaponry, while showing only its villains--and never its hero--having sex with women.

Robert Reneau's fitfully funny script has a callous, juvenile, macho-creepo tone effectively mirrored in the heavy-industrial directorial style of former action unit director Craig R. Baxley--though, the dominant sensibility here may be that of producer Joel Silver.

As in most of Silver's other movies ("Predator," "Commando"), the action seems to spring from a pre-ordered ritualistic scramble. It's a picture that glorifies gun power, seldom suggests that anything but violence is an appropriate answer to violence. It's a vicious movie (MPAA rated R: for copious violence and bizarre sex), whose tongue-in-cheek approach disguises a moral vacancy.

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