Desperate Hours (1990)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Oct 5, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

The 1955 original version of The Desperate Hours, directed by the incomparable William Wyler, juxtaposed the volatile bond between a fraternity of on-the-lam criminals with the powerful but bloodless ties of staid '50s family life. This 1990 adaptation attempts a similar contrast between a more modern breed of murderer and a disaffected yuppie clan. Unfortunately, the updated subtext is of little interest when the storytelling itself proves so lackluster. Directed by Michael Cimino of The Deer Hunter fame and Heaven's Gate infamy, The Desperate Hours offers up a tremulous Anthony Hopkins in place of steely patriarch Fredric March and a scenery-chewing Mickey Rourke in place of hard-nosed Humphrey Bogart. The cast also includes such talents as Mimi Rogers, Lindsay Crouse, and Elias Koteas, but the script is so hackneyed that they have little to work with. Even worse, the screenwriters have needlessly complicated the tight economy of the original plot to include such half-baked characters as Kelly Lynch's crooked defense attorney. Although it's shorter than its predecessor, the remake feels much longer, its pallid suspense sequences as tense as a worn-out elastic waistband. By about halfway through, audiences may well be rooting for Hopkins and company to stage a massacre so the credits can roll.