Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Stephen Baldwin, Will Patton, Robert John Burke, Salma Hayek
Rated R for Strong Violence and Language, and for Some Nudity
"Fled" is as brainless as they come, even for an action movie. It's so dumb that I thought of "The Stone Merchant," and that's saying something.
Dodge (Baldwin) is a computer hacker spending time on the chain gang for stealing $25 million from a sleazy corporation. He gets into a fight with a Cro-Magnon and ends up chained up next to Parker (Fishburne), who tried to stop it. Eventually, things devolve into the first of many shoot-outs in this film, and Parker and Dodge seize the opportunity to make a run for it. However, things aren't what they seem, as a yokel cop named Gibson (Patton) finds out. Apparently the company Dodge stole from is a front for the Cuban mafia, and the disk that was used to convict him has enough evidence to nail a mob boss for life. Now the two of them have to stay alive long enough to find the disk and get it to the Attorney General, who is in the middle of a case against said mafia don.
Action movies don't need strong stories to succeed. Take "Speed" for example. It's just as dumb but ten times as fun. However, that movie had superior craftsmanship and wit. It got us to believe that the trials of the bus, which let's face it, were totally ridiculous, were actually happening. "Fled" doesn't even come close. This is pedestrian direction, and like "The Jackal," it substitutes gratuitous violence for suspense.
At least the actors have some charisma. Laurence Fishburne is always interesting to watch, but this is no Morpheus. The role is beneath him and Fishburne treats it as such. Pre-evangelist Stephen Baldwin is also good, but he's working with such meager material that he can't do much with it. Will Patton, usually so reliable, is more odd than compelling. He plays his character as a cross between a redneck and a stoned-out liberal arts professor. As a result, Gibson comes across like an idiot savant. Robert John Burke turns up the sleaze, something that he is entirely capable of doing.
This is the kind of movie where the characters spell out exactly what they're doing before they do it. Or take far too long to get the hint. At one point, the treacherous U.S. Marshall played by Burke guns down someone who was surrendering. This occurs shortly after the first action scene. It takes Gibson, who sees this happen, three-quarters of the movie to realize that the guy is up to no good. And believe me, that's not even the most obvious example.
Still, the movie never bored me, and the car chase sequences are well done (such scenes are notoriously difficult to pull off). But I can't recommend the film unless you've got a lot of beer and want to give your brain a break. A serious break.