[box cover]

Three Blind Mice

A passable made-for-television thriller, Three Blind Mice (2001) offers up Brian Dennehy making some reportable income in the role of action-lawyer Matthew Hope, a guy who's more likely to settle cases going mano a mano in his sultry Florida Everglades surroundings than in the air-conditioned confines of a courtroom. This is disconcerting since Hope, as embodied by Dennehy, is a dangerously overweight senior citizen; the last thing he needs to be doing is rasslin' with deranged criminals. Amazingly, despite his crushing girth, Hope also is something of a ladies' man, threatening to bed not only the female opposing council, Patricia Demming, (played by a still youthful Mary Stuart Masterson, who once conducted an equally unappetizing onscreen romance with Gene Wilder in Funny About Love), but a comely Vietnamese immigrants' advocate (Rosalind Chao, who played Klinger's take-home wife on M*A*S*H and, later, After M*A*S*H). Thankfully, none of this happens during this auto-pilot yarn, which finds Hope defending a fellow Vietnam War vet, Stephen Leeds (a rather guilty looking John Doman) for allegedly killing three young Vietnamese boys recently acquitted for assaulting his wife, Josie (Debrah Farentino). Because Leeds is a friend, and appears ridiculously guilty, Hope does everything he can to extricate himself from the case. But the eyewitnesses' supposed sightings of Leeds on the night of the murders just don't add up. Equally dubious is Josie's hazy recollection of her alleged attack, which brings her under the umbrella of suspicion along with her ex-convict brother, Ned (Quinn Duffy), and, most improbably, Demming's slick District Attorney boss, Carter Simmons (Jason Beghe). The script, based on the bestseller by Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter), drops in a number of obvious red herrings, all of which confound Hope and his private investigator sidekick Warren Chambers (Glenn Plummer), but it moves along briskly enough to satisfy its intended audience. The picture is less successful when attempting to say something semi-profound about the psychological cruelty of warfare, where atrocities are committed on both sides. Still, one has to be reasonably forgiving to a film in which the prime suspect's alibi rests on his being bored to sleep by Sidney Lumet's remake of Sabrina. And even though he's in less than stellar physical condition, Dennehy is, as ever, a commandingly charismatic presence, making this movie-of-the-week quickie far more watchable than it has any right to be. Fans of McBain's voluminous Matthew Hope series likely will be satisfied. Paramount presents Three Blind Mice in a clear full-screen transfer (1.33:1) with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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