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They Forgot the War in 'WW3'

July 13, 2001|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Had trouble getting to sleep this summer?

Have we got the movie for you. . . .

"WW3," a slack, uninvolving thriller from Fox about the rapid spread of a "hot virus" that threatens to decimate the U.S., squanders your time and the talent of its star, Timothy Hutton.

This tedious telefilm follows two FBI agents (Hutton and Vanessa L. Williams) on the trail of terrorists who have released a deadly biological substance that causes flu-like symptoms and internal bleeding within 48 hours of contact.

"It's like Ecuador after a bloody coup," says Williams, in a lame attempt to describe the carnage caused by the lethal powder unleashed on a cruise ship.

Supposedly, the second attack at a Chicago baseball stadium results in thousands of casualties, but you would never know it from the relatively sedate scenes staged by director Robert Mandel at the hospital that employs Hutton's wife, a saintly doctor played by Marin Hinkle of "Once and Again."

Hutton's subtle sense of humor goes over the head of his brittle boss, who's too busy barking orders to smile. And any film that covers up the lovely Williams in a bulky radioactive suit is just asking for trouble.

Moreover, the title doesn't make much sense because it's never really clear how this viral, man-made disease could lead to another global conflict.

* "WW3" can be seen tonight at 8 on Fox. The network has rated it TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children younger than 14, with advisories for language and violence).

Surf Report

MOVIES

A boy befriends a chimpanzee who learns sign language from the child's father in "The Jennie Project" (7 p.m. Disney Channel). (See related review.)

SERIES

The paranormal drama "Mysterious Ways" returns for a third NBC run at 8 p.m., temporarily filling in for "Providence." In tonight's episode, Adrian Pasdar and Rae Dawn Chong investigate a firefighter who walked away from a blaze unharmed.

"Lexx," the Sci-Fi Channel adventure about misfits stranded in space, launches its third season tonight at 10.

A throwback to low-budget films of the '50s, the show centers on a strange crew consisting of an inept captain, a seductive love slave and the detached head of a robot with the hots for a dour assassin who died 2,000 years ago.

SPORTS

Interleague baseball continues as the Dodgers visit Oakland (7 p.m. Fox Sports Net 2) and the Angels play Arizona (7 p.m. Fox Sports Net).

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