January 31, 1994 12:00 PM

Christopher Lambert, Mario Van Peebles, Patrick Stewart

Although it runs the gamut from bloody unlikely to bloody implausible to bloody inane to just plain bloody, this original caper-action-buddy film with Butch Cassidy aspirations is engaging and often generates oddly innocent fun.

It is certainly the first buddy movie featuring a Bulgarian smuggler (Lambert) and a New York City street kid turned bounty hunter/DEA agent (Van Peebles)—not that there have been many buddy movies featuring a Bulgarian smuggler and a left inside linebacker or a Bulgarian smuggler and a senator from Utah or a Bulgarian smuggler and…you get the idea.

Lambert and Van Peebles play a couple of free spirits who inadvertently team up to hunt $400 million swiped from drug kingpin Stewart. Screenwriter Stephen Sommers makes his worst miscalculation by moving Stewart out of the plot so fast. Stewart, the captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, is so clearly the best actor in the film that his disappearance has a palpably deflating effect.

The charismatic Van Peebles and the usually phlegmatic Lambert don’t attain Glover-Gibson levels of camaraderie, but Sommers gives them some glibly ingratiating lines and a nice sight gag when they both limp in unison, having shot each other in the leg to preempt their “buddy” from running off with the loot. (R)

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