"Heaven's Prisoners" may have been James Lee Burke's best-selling
mystery novel, but under Phil Joanou's plodding direction, this New Orleans
tale is no Mardi Gras. At two hours and thirteen minutes, this film mostly
features Alec Baldwin painfully trying to mouth his lines in New Orleans-speak.
You do get to see Teri Hatcher naked. That woke up the guys who were starting
to doze off through the endless nonsense that passed for plot.
As an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic, Baldwin is pulled back into the maelstrom
after he and his wife, Kelly Lynch, rescue a little girl from a sinking
airplane. But no one can rescue this sinking film or its misbegotten chartacters.
Joanou sees "Heaven's Prisoners" as character-driven. At least
that's what the press kits says. No wonder: it was Baldwin who optioned
Burke's novel with himself in mind. Baldwin has made a career on-screen
and off as the man who just can't resist a nearby adrenaline rush. So when
he isn't talking, he does cut a credible action figure. And Eric Roberts,
as the gangster Bubba Rocque, at least is believable.
I know it is popular to play against type; Elizabeth Shue reversed course
brilliantly in "Leaving Las Vegas". A good gambit if it works.
But to cast the women's parts in "Heaven's Prisoners", they threw
darts at the wall. Wacko Kelly Lynch is the strong wife? Squeaky clean Mary
Stuart Masterson is the stripper?? And "Lois and Clark's" Teri
Hatcher is the femme fatale???
You can't hang the sleep-inducing pace on the cast, however. But you might
be tempted to take Joanu out to the plane and trade him for the kid.