March 01, 1993 12:00 PM

Lara Flynn Bolye. Timothy Hutton. Faye Dunaway, Dwight Schultz

Like most films in the current killer beauty craze, this grindingly silly, predictable subthriller assumes that not only most of its characters but most of its audience members are cretinously dumb, credulous and naive.

No one, for instance, seems to notice that Boyle, as a temporary worker in a food conglomerate’s head office, is preternaturally energetic and ambitious for someone with limited status. And her immediate boss, Hutton, takes an eternity to see how insidiously Boyle is invading his life, down to tampering with his tenuous relationship with his estranged wife, Maura Tierney.

Director Tom Holland has little to offer outside self-consciously bizarre camera angles, and screenwriter Kevin Falls burdens his script with vapid aphorisms: “Success is like hot air—it rises.”

Boyle, while Convincingly seductive and malicious as a woman determined to murder her way to the top, never shows even a hint of subtlety. She wears her heartlessness on her sleeve as the food company’s middle management goes into crisis, with young executives dying mysteriously. Dunaway, often seeming to be satirizing the hyperaggressive woman executive role she all but defined in Network, is an effective harpy as Hutton’s domineering boss, while the versatile Schultz yuppies it up as the company’s would-be president.

The callow-seeming Hutton makes an ideal victim for this kind of movie, vulnerable but not helpless. His predicament is so contrived, though, that there is little suspense. (R)

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