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As far as action thrillers go, RICOCHET ($25) is a pleasant diversion that features stylish direction from Russell Mulcahy and wonderfully over-the-top performance from John Lithgow as the film's villain. RICOCHET stars Denzel Washington as Nick Styles, an ambitious street cop who hopes to better himself by attending law school. By chance, Styles is thrown into a hostage situation, where he is able to make a daring rescue and capture crazed killer Earl Talbott Blake (John Lithgow). The entire incident is captured on videotape, which turns the new hero into a rising star in the police department. Styles is able to parlay his high profile career as a detective into a position as an assistant prosecutor when completes law school.

While Styles' life has been upswing, the years in prison have not been so good for Earl Talbott Blake, whose single purpose in life has become the ruination of the man who put him behind bars. When the opportunity presents itself, Blake is able to escape from prison and fake his own death. Without the law on his tail, Blake sets in motion an elaborate scheme to destroy Styles' picture perfect life. RICOCHET is an enjoyable outing thanks to Denzel Washington's likable presence, but the real credit has to go to John Lithgow. While nowhere as intense as his turn in RAISING CAIN, Lithgow is sublime as the insane, but brilliant Blake. The cast of RICOCHET also features Ice-T as Styles' less than savory friend Odessa, and Kevin Pollak as Styles' police department partner Larry Doyle. Lindsay Wagner, Mary Ellen Trainor and John Amos lend support.

HBO Home Video offers RICOCHET in Letterboxed transfer that does not contain the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. The transfer itself appear to be the same as that issued on Laserdisc several years ago and lacks the "snap" of a brand new anamorphic transfer. New transfers seem sharper than sharp, however RICOCHET appears softer than the expected standard. Detail is everything one could expect from an older transfer. Color reproduction was fairly good and strong hues didn't have any appreciable distortion. RICOCHET is presented very close to its 2.35:1 theatrical framing, with all of the essentials up on screen. Digital compression artifacts were never a serious concern.

Although the packaging claims that RICOCHET is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, there are only two channels of information, which will decode to standard Dolby Surround. The matrixed track is pretty good, offering some nice separations across the front and ambience in the rear. However, it is no substitute for a real 5.1 channel mix. French Dolby Surround and Spanish monaural soundtracks have also been included on this DVD. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer the standard scene and language selection features, plus cast biographies, a theatrical trailer and six TV spots.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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