Mr. Murder (1998) starring Stephen Baldwin, Julie Warner, Bill Smitrovich, Thomas Haden Church, James Coburn, Kaley Cuoco, Dan Lauria directed by Dick Lowry Movie Review

Mr. Murder (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kaley Cuoco and Stephen Baldwin in Mr. Murder (1998)

Cloning the Baldwin

Drew Oslett, Jr. (Thomas Haden Church) has been handed a top scientific project by his father Drew Oslett, Sr. (James Coburn) involving stealing the DNA of top athletes to create an army of ultimate warriors via genetics and cloning. But a mix up at the hospital leads to a test tube containing the blood of horror novelist Martin Stillwater (Stephen Baldwin) ending up with Oslett rather than a test tube of blood from a top swimmer. The clone with Martin's blood which is named Alfie becomes a loyal killer for Oslett until one day he comes across as article about Martin leading him to track him down and try to kill him to take his place.

I have never read a novel by Dean Koontz but have watched a few movie adaptations and to my knowledge I don't remember being impressed by a single one of them. Now considering Koontz is such a popular author you begin to wonder whether what ever it is which makes his books so popular just can't be transferred to the big screen. That brings me to "Mr. Murder" a TV movie adaptation of a Koontz novel but one with a few well known names and faces including a young Kaley Cuoco. But again this adaptation only ends up being a let down.

Thomas Haden Church in Mr. Murder (1998)

Part of the trouble is that right from the word go you realise this isn't going to be a clever, atmospheric movie when we meet Drew Oslett, Jr. and his henchman who decide to kill the swimmer by electrocuting him using the plumbing system of the shower block. Yes stage an accident but at least stage one which is convincing rather than corny in its over the top skulduggery. It gets worse when we then get a dumb nurse juggling with the test tubes which are yet to be labelled. It is all so stupid that in truth it would take a miracle for this movie to recover.

That miracle is not Stephen Baldwin who for me would have been better cast as an inept henchman that in the split role of horror writing husband and cloned killing machine. In fairness in the right movie Stephen Baldwin can shine but this isn't it and it is one of a series of issues preventing "Mr. Murder" from being anything but average at best and yes that does also include Thomas Haden Church who ironically I would have preferred to see as the horror writing husband.

But what for me is the biggest disappointment is the utter lack of depth as whilst once Martin's clone is created we see how he has some sort of twin occurrences/ connections and hallucinations that is as far as it goes. It means a whole lot of opportunity to look at the consequences and being creative with the cloning set up are ignored with just uninspiring ideas tossed at us in uninspiring ways such as something in the clone seeking the perfect family.

What this all boils down to is that "Mr. Murder" was a let down as what was probably a good book has been turned in to a dull, ordinary movie which lacks excitement, atmosphere and real depth.