When the the son of single dad cop Andy Garcia develops leukaemia and needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant, the only person who can help is super-intelligent psycho Michael Keaton, who agrees to help but escapes the operating table. Garcia's cop must then bring him back, alive, if his son has any chance.
The idea that an action movie audience might be remotely concerned with plot credibility has been well and truly savaged in the last ten years. This crashes through the believability barrier in the first reel, then keeps on barreling into "you can't be serious" land.
This combo platter of The Silence Of The Lambs and Die Hard begins when straight-arrow cop Andy Garcia discovers the only person who can donate bone marrow to save his leukaemic moppet is imprisoned homicidal sociopath Michael Keaton. After regulation Hannibal Lecter head-messing, Keaton volunteers for the transplant but only because he has a plan to get off the operating table and escape from the maximum security prison hospital. When Keaton gets loose, Garcia has to track him down, a task complicated by his need to keep the baddie alive if he is to have any chance of saving his son. The other cops and S.W.A.T. hordes decide the kid is expendable, so Andy has to fend off his allies as he pursues Keaton through action staples such as Mexican stand-offs, liftshaft-dangling, ventilation duct-squirreling and a San Francisco car chase.
Garcia is stuck with the uptight dad in a suit gig as he slogs about intensely, and Keaton - seriously pumped-up and with a brush haircut - has gone the nutso route before in Pacific Heights. As for the rest of the cast, Marcia Gay Harden is the dedicated "paediatric oncologist" who has inconvenient vertigo and Brian Cox, without whom no second-rank psycho pic would be complete, is the gruff top cop who keeps telling Garcia he's gone too far ("How many people have to die so your son can live?") and then cuts him more slack.
Director Schroeder, who used to have claims to be taken seriously, has one interesting character twist up his sleeve - the unexpected ruthlessness of the terminal boy - but it's not enough to haul this out of its rut.
While the early scenes between Garcia and Keaton have a nice Silence Of The Lambs-style feel to them, this action-thriller begins to flag soon afterwards and never really recovers, slipping from one cliché to another.