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3:15 The Moment of Truth
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by Jack Sommersby

"High Mid-Afternoon"
1 stars

In this day and age something like this would get dumped direct to video, but back in the '80s it got dumped into a handful of theatres and racked up a box-office take similar to what one would make babysitting.

Lacking the inventiveness of Mark L. Lester's Class of 1984, the energy of Fritz Kiersch's Tuff Turf, the unremarkable 3:15 The Moment of Truth is a violent high-school gang picture that neither gets out of second gear nor manages to generate any real excitement. Its plot you could scratch on the back of a matchbook, its characters mere caricatures who hold nary an iota of interest, and its narrative drive practically nonexistent. Which is a shame because it stars the talented Adam Baldwin, who six years prior displayed genuine acting ability in the freshly incisive My Bodyguard; here, playing Jeff Hannah, an ex-gang member who's chosen to straighten his life out his senior year by attending class and becoming the basketball team's star player, he gives a thoughtful, contemplative performance far too good for the mediocre material. Ever since Jeff quit the Cobras after their leader killed an unarmed rival gang member, he's been on the outs with that leader, Cinco, who goes to the same school; when a full-scale police drug bust of the graffiti-vandalized urban place goes down, and Jeff refuses to say the marijuana Cinco's dealing to be his, Cinco, who's arrested, gets his comrades to spread the word that Jeff's a narc and that he's a dead man once Cinco's released. Jeff, having to face off against Cinco and his henchmen by himself because the rest of the student body is too afraid to back him up, has to take care of things in derivative High Noon mode at, yep, the exact time the picture's title is derived from. Even the most undemanding B-movies require some semblances of believability, and 3:15 The Moment of Truth is so chock-full of absurdities that you can't take anything in it remotely seriously for a second. No surprise being that the co-writer is Michael Jacobs of the Tatum O'Neal/Irene Cara garbage-fest Certain Fury, and the director the inept Larry Gross, who can't compose a shot or shape a scene to save his life (interestingly, he wrote two superior Walter Hill-directed actioners, 48 Hrs. and Streets of Fire, though evidently none of Hill's considerable skill rubbed off on him). The clunky finale has all the suspense of a Rotary Club luncheon, with Jeff inexplicably opting not to bring even a pocketknife to this life-and-death fight because he, what, won't stoop to his adversaries' "level"? First-rate actors Deborah Foreman, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Lauter and Wings Hauser are wasted in disposable roles, and that otherwise-marvelous cinematographer Misha Suslov (Black Moon Rising) gives the proceedings all the visual life of a scummy latrine. It's always good to see Adam Baldwin working, but did he really have to partake in this cinematic claptrap?

Watch something with more vitality like, say, "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie."

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originally posted: 08/04/13 22:21:16
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  31-Jan-1986 (R)



Directed by
  Larry Gross

Written by
  Sam Bernard
  Michael Jacobs

  Adam Baldwin
  Deborah Foreman
  Jesse Aragon
  Rene Auberjonois
  Ed Lauter

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