Blown Away (1994)
January 30, 2024 2:29 PM - Subscribe

An Irish bomber escapes from prison and targets a member of the Boston bomb squad.

After staging a particularly gory jailbreak, Irish Republican Army agent Ryan Gaerity (Tommy Lee Jones) makes his way to Boston and begins systematically picking off members of the police bomb squad. The leader of this team, Jimmy Dove (Jeff Bridges), is set to retire, but the recent spate of bombings lead him to stay on in an attempt to save as many of his men as possible. It isn't long before he discovers the culprit is his old colleague Gaerity, seeking revenge from their shared past.

Roger Ebert: Conventional wisdom has it that a thriller is only as good as its villain. Jones is one of the best villains in the business, but here he has two problems. (1) He is saddled with all the Irish political apparatus, which provides a "motivation" when none is really needed. (2) He is a loner, so all of his scenes are with his enemies, leading to a one-note performance. In "Under Siege," where he was also a mad bomber of sorts, he got to play other notes, as a deceptively friendly impostor, and as a group leader.

Mike Massie: A subplot to discover Jimmy’s connection to Ryan and the strained relationship between the newlyweds doesn’t help the focus, while several questionable elements, such as how Gaerity could so easily don the guise of a janitor to sneak into the police department, or how he could gather the information necessary to sneak into Dove’s home and other private locales of city officials, detract from the script. But surely the most nonsensical aspect is Gaerity’s senselessly complex Rube Goldberg booby trap in his hideout. Still, the stunts and bomb-diffusing excitement (including an earth-shattering fulmination toward the finale) generally outweigh the contrivances and editing problems.

Hal Hinson: Gaerity's return both sinks the film and saves it. If the filmmakers had given some indication that Gaerity had come to Boston specifically to take his revenge on Dove, the movie might have had at least some hint of plausibility. As it is, Gaerity just happens to catch a glimpse of his nemesis on the tube, and given the obsessiveness of his feelings the connection is too casually made to be believed.

On the plus side, Tommy Lee Jones plays this eccentric killer with such maniacal verve that believability becomes a minor matter. Coming off his picture-stealing performance in "The Fugitive," Jones gives another one here, and while the drawled precision of his work in that earlier film was a master's lesson in concentrated restraint, his acting here is gloriously hammy and theatrical. Like lethal Rube Goldberg creations, his bombs aren't merely meant to explode; they're macabre jokes, designed with killer punch lines.

posted by Carillon (3 comments total)
One of the weirder action movies to me. The lesser of a lot of movies as gets mentioned, but that makes it sorta work in a weird way? Very OIrish accent that is distracting. It's a second rate Under Siege, Fugitive, Speed etc, but that gives it it's own charm. Gaerity comes across almost like a prototypical Jigsaw killer in some ways.
posted by Carillon at 2:31 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

I really wanted to enjoy this movie more than I did. I'm not sure now, in retrospect, what left me wanting more, as it seemed to have some pretty good ingredients.

Of note, this is one of those few films where the Bridges are together. Lloyd Bridges plays the father to Jeff Bridges' characters.
posted by Atreides at 8:00 AM on January 31

I don't think I've seen this since it came out, but the main thing I remember about it (apart from the bomb-blast-reflecting-off-a-metal-plate booby trap) is although it's only two hours long, it seemed to be a lot longer. The pacing just felt kind of weird in places.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:39 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]

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