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TRUE BELIEVER. Directed by Joseph Ruben; written by Wesley Strick, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker for Columbia. Starring James Woods, Robert Downey, Jr. and Yugi Okumoto. Rated R.


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Violent, convoluted and a bit slipshod in details, True Believer can still be recommended to mystery/thriller/courtroom drama fans.

It's something af a buddy movie, with lawyers Eddie (Woods) and Roger (Downey) crusading to free a man wrongly convicted of murder.

The buddy system is a little unbalanced here, though. Roger, though quite good in his brief scenes, is overshadowed by Eddie. Since Woods has such a riveting screen presence, this comes as no surprise. In addition, Eddie is a terrifically interesting, though not always likeable, character.

Eddie is a perfect character for Woods to play. He's full of nervous energy and righteous indignation, but with glimpses of vulnerable humanity within.

The rest of the cast is good, too, especially Okamoto, who was so nasty in Karate Kid II but gets to be a hero in True Believer. Kurtwood Smith is memorable as well, more urbane here than in Robocop, but nearly as despicable.

March 1, 1989

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