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D.O.A.
1988 - R - Mins.
Director: Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Daniel Stern, Charlotte Rampling, Jane Kaczmarek
Review by: John Ulmer
   
"D.O.A." has all the potential, flare and intrigue to be a well-done film noir, but it isn't. It isn't convincing. It's contrived. The setup is weak, predictable, and very typical. It has an idea that it is some powerhouse Hitchcockian thriller, but it isn't. It's just another weak, pathetic 80s remake of a 40s thriller, with a silly, predictable, contrived and disappointing ending that tops my list of silliest endings ever.

The film starts out grand, quickly deccelerates into mediocrity, then bathes in awfulness towards the end. The first two minutes are basically the only good parts in the film, when a college English professor, Dexter Cornell (Dennis Quaid) stumbles into a police station to report his own murder. Filmed in black and white with a great sense of film noir, this is the film's only highpoint. The rest is all downhill.

Dexter has been murdered by someone. His body contains a substance which will kill him in less than 49 hours. ("No more than forty-eight!") Using the last days of his life, Dexter tries to hunt down his killer with the help of the flirtatious student Sydney (Meg Ryan), who doesn't seem like she has a purpose in the film nearly as much as Harrison Ford's French companion did in "Frantic."

Dexter recalls what he found out to the police, what all happened, where the bloody path of murder led him. It all ends up with a very stupid, silly ending that, when you think the film cannot get any mediocre and 80s-typical, pushes over the top and sends the film sprawling into stupidity.

I won't tell you what happens at the end, nor who has killed Dexter, nor if he lives, nor if he dies, nor if he ever kisses the girl, but I will tell you that thirty minutes into the film, I really didn't care anymore. I had guessed the ending, and I had another hour to sit and wait for my assumptions to be confirmed. It's too easy to guess, too simple. It's all there, and the "surprise" ending isn't nearly as unpredictable as other thrillers I've seen in recent years. Even "Frantic," which came out the same year as "D.O.A.," manages to entertain and hold one's interest more than this measly dross.

I will tell you (spoilers ahead) to look out for someone who gets shot and flies backwards out a window at the end of the film. Last time I checked, when someone gets shot in the chest, they do not do a 180 and leap full force out a window and plummet to their death. It's so typical of an 80s film remake. A handgun would barely make someone get knocked backwards, much less make them spin around and leap to their death.

What a disappointing movie.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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