by Jack Sommersby
With an excellent cast, good writing, and stylish execution that gives escapist entertainment a great name.In the wonderfully entertaining thriller D.O.A., Dennis Quaid is sensational as Dexter "Dex" Cornell, a University of Texas English professor who's having a very bad day. A sweltering heat wave has encompassed his city of Austin on Christmas week, his estranged wife has finalized divorce proceedings against him, his prize pupil has jumped to his death on campus, and after a night of considerable drinking in various places and a visit to the hospital he learns he's been poisoned with a slow-acting agent that gives him between twenty-four and forty-eight hours to live. (During the opening credits, he makes his way into a police station to report a murder. The officer asks who was murdered, and Dex replies, "I was.") Dex is that rare protagonist in the unique position to track down his own murderer, and if the story sounds familiar it's because the movie is a remake of the 1950 original, which was okay but hampered by some throwaway humor that punctured the proceedings; here, with an ingenious screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue, who wrote the underrated Psycho III and overrated The Fly, this remake has humor, too, but it's oftentimes witty, and the red herrings that keep us off balance are well incorporated in rendering the whodunit angle organically sound so everything adds up in the end. Dex is a man who's been in limbo for the past four years: an author of four well-received novels, Dex has given up on writing and cynically ridden the comfortable waves of his occupational tenure, which has alienated his wife and close friends; but in his remaining few hours something primal in him reawakens, and he finds himself never more alive than with death right around the corner. It's a plum role, and Quaid, who's in every single scene, gives a first-rate performance, chock-full of internal tension and slyness (he suggests a man who can't help but be amused at the absurdity of a situation that would make a really great novel); the year before he scored a trifecta with The Big Easy, Innerspace, and Suspect, with D.O.A. reaffirming him as a major talent worthy of A-list movie-star status. In the supporting ranks, Meg Ryan, Daniel Stern, Jane Kaczmarek, and Christopher Neame offer commendable support. Kudos also to the directing team of Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, making their feature-film debut after TV's Max Headroom and who make uncanny use of the camera in conjuring up true noir atmosphere. There are exciting action sequences involving a nail gun backstage at a deserted auditorium, a car chase winding up in a giant tar pit, and a grand finale within the confines of Dex's office that have been engineered for maximum suspense; and all the while the story never loses sight of its human element -- the hero's emotional transitions are both lucid and complex, and ultimately very touching. See D.O.A. ASAP.The DVD sports fine video and audio, but could've used some special features.
"That Rare Superior Remake"
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originally posted: 05/16/14 01:22:25