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Television Review

A Trite 'Mr. Murder' Misses All the Targets

April 26, 1999|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Crawl, run or otherwise bolt the room to avoid "Mr. Murder," a feeble and far-fetched yarn airing in two parts tonight and Thursday on ABC.

Based on a novel by Dean Koontz, this none-too-thrilling thriller revolves around a covert genetic experiment that results in a "perfect" soldier who assassinates anyone posing a threat to high-level government heels, including his twisted "father" (Thomas Haden Church).

Stephen Baldwin gives not one but two awkward performances in a dual role as the remorseless killer named Alfie, a clone of unwitting mystery writer and family man Marty Stillwater.

Alfie and Marty share a silly telepathic connection, which enables one to know where the other happens to be.

Marty is an eccentric who always wears the same kind of shirt, and don't you just know how that will be played out in the final moments.

Meanwhile, when Marty realizes Alfie yearns for the good life with his wife (Julie Warner) and two daughters, a cynical cop (Bill Smitrovich) assumes Marty has concocted the whole megillah to generate buzz for his latest book.

Devoid of surprises or suspense as written by Stephen Tolkin and directed by Dick Lowry, the muddled "Murder" would be forgettable in half the running time. At four hours, it's just twice as trite.

*

"Mr. Murder" airs tonight and Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC. The network has rated it TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14).

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