on August 22, 1997 by Christine James
"This is a `Die Hard' situation," exclaims 14-year-old Ozzie ("Alaska's" Vincent Kartheiser) when he finds himself trapped in an affluent private school that's been commandeered by a sophisticated but malevolent adult ("Star Trek: First Contact's" Patrick Stewart) and his army. The plot: to extort an exorbitant ransom for each child from their wealthy parents. But not if Ozzie can help it. A charming genius with a proclivity for troublemaking, Ozzie sets about mucking up the carefully crafted plan.    Wanting to be the "Die Hard" for the teenage set, "Masterminds" unfortunately does not nearly measure up to the film to which it admits its debt. The charismatic hero and villain keep the momentum going but, given "Masterminds'" plural title, more direct conflict of an ascendingly ingenious caliber was needed between nemesis and hero, rather than the fairly routine manner in which our young rogue dispatches of the goons.    After a recent screening, a group of kids in the lobby summed it up best: A boy about 13 proclaimed it "predictable," to which a girl of about the same age replied with a squeal, "But it was fantastic!" Kartheiser is sure to melt girls' hearts, and most boys will revel in his anti-authority cocksureness, but adults should stay at home. Starring Vincent Kartheiser, Patrick Stewart and Brenda Fricker. Directed by Roger Christian. Written by Floyd Byars, Alex Siskin and Chris Black. Produced by Floyd Byars and Robert Dudelson. A Triumph release. Action. Rated PG-13 for violence included in a children hostage situation, and for language. Running time: 105 min
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