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AN INNOCENT MAN

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, April 5, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: As a big-screen leading man, Tom Selleck had two blockbusters (‘Three Men and a Baby,’ the No. 1 hit of 1987, and its 1990 sequel, ‘Three Men and a Little Lady’) and a modest success or two (‘Quigley Down Under,’ ‘High Road to China’) but never managed to garner a script and director that could put him on top. As a result, his biggest achievements were on television, chiefly ‘Magnum, P.I.,’ and ‘Blue Bloods.’ Nonetheless, he has a fan base even for his mediocre flicks, so Kino Lorber has seen fit to give this one a Blu-ray upgrade. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on Oct. 6, 1989.

When “Lock Up” was released a couple of months ago I suggested it was Sylvester Stallone’s prison picture, the film in that genre that all action movie stars seem to do somewhere in the course of their career.

Now comes Tom Selleck’s prison picture, “An Innocent Man,” and as you might gather from the title he plays a man who is no criminal but who is imprisoned anyway.

Selleck is an everyday working stiff who lives with his wife in the hills overlooking Long Beach Harbor. One day two on-the-take narcs (David Rasche, Richard Young) burst into his home expecting to break in on a drug buy. One cop accidentally shoots Selleck and they belatedly realize they’ve gone to the wrong address. So they plant cocaine on Selleck and frame him just to cover themselves.

     

Tom Selleck, F. Murray Abraham, 'An Innocent Man'

Expecting leniency for a first offense, Selleck instead goes to prison for a six-year sentence. He decides to play it cool, serve his time and just return home to his wife. But in prison the rules change and soon he’s changing also.

Meanwhile, Selleck’s wife (Laila Robins) is working with another cop (Badja Djola) to try to free her husband. And the two bad cops are terrorizing her.

If that’s not preposterous enough for you, there are lots of other little subplots along the way to strain your suspension of disbelief. And they might have been acceptable if the film had any kind of style or action going for it. But most of the way it’s plodding and so laid-back that these prisoners seem more like they’re doing summer camp than hard time.

     

Selleck tries hard, and he’s a very appealing leading man, but “An Innocent Man” is written by-the-numbers style by first-timer Larry Brothers, as if it were a failed TV pilot, and director Peter Yates, whose work has been quite spotty from film to film (“Bullitt,” “Suspect”), doesn’t bring any life to the project.

In fact, David Rasche, TV’s former “Sledge Hammer,” steals the show as the wacko half of the narc duo, the film’s most despicable character, “Amadeus” Oscar-winner F. Murray Abrahams also does a walk-through as Selleck’s prison buddy.

Alternative suggestion (unless you’re just a die-hard Selleck fan): Go rent Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man,” with Henry Fonda as an innocent guy sent to prison — a true story.

“An Innocent Man” is rated R for violence, profanity, nudity and sex.