June 17, 1991 12:00 PM

Lou Diamond Phillips, Clancy Brown

In a tale of an author and a psychotic killer, Lou Diamond Phillips, the writer, stretches audience credulity, then Lou Diamond Phillips, the actor, jumps up and down on it until it breaks.

Phillips’s first screenplay contains intriguing nooks. He plays an unpublished novelist who sees a TV clip of Brown, an imprisoned killer, and decides to write a book about him. When Brown is paroled, Phillips befriends him, with ulterior motives.

Cecilia Peck, as Phillips’s lady, is professional. Brown is subtly thoughtful. Phillips, though, reads lines as if he’s ordering a plain pizza, and he wrote himself such clichés as: “Don’t you say that. Don’t you ever say that.”

As the film contorts its way along, it’s best to just recall 1987’s Best Seller, where the Picasso of creepiness, James Woods. and Brian Dennehy made more of a similar theme. (R)

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