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Dean Koontz's 'Mr. Murder' Reviews

Awash in derivative pseudo-climaxes, this sci-fi actioner suggests that science has gone from cloning sheep to replicating formulaic chillers. Led by megalomaniac Drew Oslett Jr. (Thomas Haden Church), a right wing organization steals DNA in order to create future warriors. When two test tubes of genetic material are accidentally switched, Drew's team unwittingly clones Martin Stillwater (Stephen Baldwin), a hack horror novelist, instead of the athlete they thought they were duplicating. Martin's clone, Alfie (also played by Baldwin), zealously follows Drew's assassination agenda until he reads a magazine puff piece about Martin. Convinced his life has been usurped, Alfie disobeys orders and pursues Martin while fooling Martin's wife and daughters as to who is the real Martin. While the tiresome twins grapple in various locations, a new subgenre is born: the dopey-ganger thriller, and a poor one at that. First of all, the screenplay fails to exploit what could have been an interesting CORSICAN BROTHERS-style connection between protagonist and antagonist. Secondly, it doesn't allow curious clone Alfie to grill Martin with useful identity questions before closing in for the kill. Thirdly, only a clone would want to claim Martin's family after meeting them. Hopelessly compromised by Baldwin's inadequate acting (north of somnambulistic, south of apathetic), this clone-encounter of the worst kind rapidly disintegrates. While Dean Koontz, on whose novel the film is based, contemplates the ethics of gene-splicing, the viewer is left to ponder the downside of fraternal nepotism: They may not be clones, but there are far too many Baldwins, and not enough mediocre action vehicles to contain them.