Boy, oh boy, when John Lithgow decides to change his screen image, he does it in a big way.
He plays psychotic hit man Earl Talbot Blake, who's busted in 1984 by beat cop Nicholas Stiles (Denzel Washington). Blake follows Stiles' high profile career from his cell over the next six years, as Stiles is promoted to Assistant D.A.
Blake escapes from prison and fakes his own death. He then systematically tries to destroy Stiles' life by setting him up in a series of ridiculous events where Stiles is suspected of theft, murder, child pornography, sadomasochism and intro-venous drug use and more amazing, everyone believes him guilty -- including his wife.
Lindsay Wagner looks embarrassed in her part as Stiles' boss, and rapper Ice T plays Odessa, Stiles' basketball-playing buddy who runs the local crack house.
The movie does its best to show the viewer new and improved ways to maim. A circular saw, electric hand drill, spike and lightning rod are all sued to impale in glorious close-ups.
Lithgow's character is the most despicable villain this year and he looks like he's enjoying every minute of it. He makes a scary whacko, but should have waited for a better script before he sharpened his deviate's acting teeth.
How the movie studio convinced Lithgow and Washington, both Academy Award winners, to star in this violence-laden, absurd movie, is beyond me.