Boston's Alternative Source! image!

R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 12/12/1996,


Still more millennial fear and commuter angst get routed through this toll-heavy disaster vehicle set in New York's Holland Tunnel -- call it "The Tunneling Inferno." The premise: a toxic explosion caused by some jewel thieves in punk-rock garb endangers a group of Jersey-bound travelers, including a celebrity jock (Viggo Mortensen), a busload of convicts, a gutsy playwright-to-be (Amy Brenneman), an obviously doomed African-American tunnel worker (Stan Shaw), and a dog (who, as in Independence Day, elicited the most audible support from the audience). To the rescue comes a former hero (Sylvester Stallone) who's haunted by his failure to protect some co-workers during a previous disaster (Judge Dredd, perhaps?).

In more ways than one, this fin-de-siècle workout strains to re-erect a sagging hard guy: if Stallone seems more vulnerable here than usual, that's a function less of his character than his age (50). A few of the wrinkles are smoothed out by some vigorous digital FX (think Twister with flames) and a truly lean action sequence in which the heavyweight star sucks in his gut to squeeze through the blades of a huge rotary fan. Alas, the movie can't trim its metaphoric bulk. Before long, daylight represents the viewer's reward for surviving this ordeal. At the Cheri, the Fresh Pond, and the Circle and in the suburbs.

-- Rob Nelson