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Picks and Pans Review: Hear No Evil

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Marlee Matlin, D.B. Sweeney, Martin Sheen

This is an innocuously diverting entertainment that mixes the standard handicapped-woman-in-peril genre with some romance and intense, if sloppily rendered, action.

Matlin is a hearing-impaired fitness trainer in Portland, Oreg. When a client stashes a valuable stolen coin in Matlin’s apartment, she becomes a target for Sheen, a corrupt, sadistic cop determined to add the coin to his retirement fund. For Matlin, whose general expression is maximum distress, this is an ideal role. She makes a sympathetic stalkee, if not as memorable a one as Audrey Hepburn in 1967’s Wait Until Dark. And while Matlin’s love interest, the soft-spoken, slight Sweeney, is on the wussy side for a hero, Sheen is marvelously hateful as the bad cop. Director Robert Greenwald, however, detracts from the tension of Sheen’s pursuit of Matlin by muddying up a lot of scenes with fuzzy sound, dim lighting and blindingly quick cutting. (Conversations in untranslated sign language are also baffling.) The final letdown: a false ending followed by a monumentally implausible surprise and a last, confusing scuffle. (R)