Rented this one on the strength of the cast: Ray Liotta and Willem Dafoe. Got off to a bang-up start. An unrepentant killer is being put to death by lethal injection. His life flashes before his eyes: his mother’s murder, abuse, juvie hall, it’s a real horror. We see him committing his murders. Then they wake him up. He’s been chosen to test a new drug that could make him a good citizen. Kubrick did this, of course, in A Clockwork Orange, but Alex wasn’t changed as a human being, he was only conditioned to get sick when he thought about “the old in-out, in-out,” or ultraviolence. The twist here is that the drug should actually make the guy regret what he’d done, rewire his brain, make him see the error of his ways.
Coulda been dynamite, there are deep moral issues here, and the movie keeps flirting with them … but always loses the thread to indulge in unwanted bang-bang, escape attempts through security that is worse than ludicrous, given the danger this man has demonstrated, and car chases. Infantile stuff. There is a good twist toward the end, something neither Lee nor I had thought of, but it was too late by then. This is a movie where the acting is much better than the directing or the script. Too bad.