Heaven's Prisoners [1996]

When he emerged from film school in the mid-1980s, director Phil Joanou was touted as the next Steven Spielberg, perhaps because Spielberg took him on as a protégé briefly. Since then, it's been "Phil who?" thanks to a series of mediocre thrillers like this one. Based on one of a series of novels by James Lee Burke about a troubled ex-cop named Dave Robicheaux, this film sat on the shelf for a couple of years before finally being released in 1995. Alec Baldwin plays Robicheaux, a recovering alcoholic who has put life on the New Orleans police department behind him--until a plane crashes in the lake next to his house. He rescues a young Central American girl from the wreck and adopts her--and winds up involved in a gumbo of drug running and dirty dealing involving an old pal named Bubba. Tip-off that this movie should have gone straight to video: Bubba is played by Eric Roberts. Redeeming feature (at least for men, who are all dogs, as everyone knows): a Teri Hatcher nude scene. --Marshall Fine

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