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Iron Maze Review

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When Japanese businessman Sugita (Murakami) is found dead in the disused steelworks he was planning to demolish to make way for a theme park, first suspicions fall on Barry Mikowski (Fahey), who has indeed been having an affair with the businessman's American wife, Chris (Fonda).

★★★★

The former Pennsylvania steel town of Corinth is no more than a shell of its former self. The mill has closed, scruffy folk hang around the decrepit main street and tough guy Jeff fahey is reduced to working as a bellhop in a Pittsburgh hotel. Enter Japanese industrialist Murakami and his American girlfriend Bridget Fonda. He has bought the mill site and wants to build an amusement park in its place. All well and good so far, this is a plot which seems to promise all kinds of interesting insights into US economic decline, the culture clash between East and West and the irony implicit in new super-power Japan investing in a blue collar American town whose steel mill helped win World War II half a century earlier.

Unfortunately, instead of pursuing these areas in any logical way, this Oliver-Stone produced movie is a mess from beginning to end, presenting three cardboard characters and a clutteres, flashback-infested narrative which rivals Passage To Marseille and Millenium as one of the most inelegant ever committed to film.

Murakami is discovered unconscious in the disused plant in the opening sequence. Cop J T Walsh thinks Fahey is the culprit and gets his version of events in several flashbacks; Fonda phones in the first of her flashbacks while fleeing the scene in her car; Murakami submits his version of events from a hospital bed and even Walsh contributes his own specualtive version of things. What all this narrative confusion comes down to is a tedious and quite routine love triangle with Fonda looking fetching in a black dress; Fahey brooding outside the window before making out with her; and her hubby finding out when her foot kicks the car phone off the hook while they're on the job. That sends her heavy breathing down the line - but just how it manages to dial through to his office by itself is never quite explained.

For a subject with so much potential, this is a criminal waste.