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TV REVIEWS : Sexy Laughs Save 'Taking the Heat'

June 05, 1993|RAY LOYND

"Taking the Heat" (premiering on Showtime, Sunday, 9 p.m.) lurches the viewer through the teeming underbelly of New York City in a romantic action comedy that works despite its formula-studded plot and egregious violence.

What propels and ultimately salvages the movie is the sexy, comedic byplay between Lynn Whitfield and Tony Goldwyn as a female cop and her reluctant murder witness fleeing through murky bars and crack houses from a mob hit squad. The pair appear to run--and even swim--almost the length of Manhattan as Gotham breaks down around them in gridlock, power outages and a sweltering heat wave.

The comparatively unknown Goldwyn (who was the nasty businessman in "Ghost") is a genuine find as a light romantic leading man. And Whitfield (who came to prominence in "The Josephine Baker Story") deftly turns her cop's tough veneer into a spirited and fetching character.

As their interracial and star-crossed romance progresses from hate-at-first-sight to the dawning of love on a raft in the East River, their wacky odyssey is constantly interrupted by a murderous mobster named Muff (the crazed Alex Carter) who sprays automatic fire at them from the George Washington Bridge to Battery Park.

In a way, it's not surprising that the director (Tom Mankiewicz) is the man who wrote many of the James Bond movies and had a hand writing the two Superman movies. Working from a carefree script by Dan Gordon, he guides the production through a bumptious, giddy plot that features, as a bonus, some older faces not often seen on the screen: George Segal (as a D.A. in a hilarious fornication scene with his duplicitous secretary), Peter Boyle as a whimsical judge and, in a dryly funny role, Alan Arkin as a mob boss on trial for bashing a guy's head in when he tries to hit a golf ball off a guy's noggin (and misses).

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