on July 19, 1996 by Pat Kramer
"Fled" is a film suffering from an identity problem. Although director Kevin Hooks tries his best to create a fast-paced action film similar to his previous action thriller "Passenger 57," the dialogue written for leads Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Baldwin keeps trying to pass itself off as offbeat comedy, a la "Bad Boys," which was far more successful in its attempt.
    Fishburne plays Piper, a cop turned convict, who helps white-collar prisoner Dodge (Baldwin) escape from a Georgia prison road crew during an accidental melee. The scenario provides an endless source of conflicts between the two men, whose escape is hampered by the fact that they are chained together by handcuffs. The escape is but a small part of a larger plot involving a Cuban hitman (Victor Rivers) and a crooked federal marshal (Robert John Burke) who are on Dodge's trail to recover a computer disk that threatens to implicate a mafia kingpin named Mantajano (soap star Michael Nader). Will Patton plays the only likable character in the cast, Atlanta police detective Gibson, a good-ole-boy whose instincts prove vital to the main character.
   Through all the predictable twists and turns, there is enough fighting and shooting to eradicate an army. Fishburne is polished, in control and in his best form as Piper, while Baldwin's superficial performance as the bungling partner provides comic relief. Salma Hayek's ("From Dusk Till Dawn") diminished role as Cora, a motorist who the convicts hijack, provides a romantic link to the plot as Piper's love interest.
   Despite all efforts by its notable cast, the film suffers from an incohesive plot that tries to provide drama, action and comedy only to lose focus and fail to accomplish any of its aims. Constant, witty references by the characters to scenes from other films is the one memorable part of "Fled," which otherwise will be what this movie does from moviegoers' minds soon after leaving the theatre. Starring Laurence Fishburne , Stephen Baldwin and Salma Hayek. Directed by Kevin Hooks. Written by Preston A. Whitmore II. Produced by Frank Mancuso Jr. An MGM release. Action. Rated R for strong violence and language, and for some nudity. Running time: 98 min
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