Fever has a great thriller premise: A convict named Ray (Q&A‘s Armand Assante) gets out of jail after four years and looks up his old girlfriend (Marcia Gay Harden of Miller’s Crossing), who’s now living with a lawyer (Dead Calm‘s Sam Neill). The two men argue over her, but while they’re squabbling, some of Ray’s old enemies kidnap the woman. Their demand for her release: The ex-con must commit three crimes of their choosing in three days. So Ray and the lawyer team up to get the jobs done.

Part romance, part buddy picture, Fever is hobbled by a slow pace (it takes forever to set up that great premise) and an excess of hard-boiled dialogue. But the relationship between Assante and Neill is solid — a nice mixture of animosity and mutual admiration — and Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues) is terrific as the sadistic criminal who sets the action in motion. B

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