Heaven’s Prisoners - * * 1/2*

Surprisingly enjoyable thriller packed with all the typical characters you’d come to expect. Alec Baldwin plays Dave Robicheaux, an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic. He’d like nothing more than to retire at his bait shop on the bayou with lovely wife Annie (Kelly Lynch). Unfortunately, fate has other things planned. An airplane from El Salvador carrying a drug smuggler and several illegal immigrants blows up and crashes into the bayou right beside Dave’s boat. The only survivor is a young girl whom the Robicheaux’s secretly smuggle away. When Dave tries to investigate the crash, he runs afoul of several shady characters, possibly linked to a local crime-lord, who happens to be Dave’s old school chum, Bubba Rocque (Eric Roberts). Add to the mix Dave’s ex-girlfriend stripper (Mary Stuart Masterson), Bubba’s flirtatious wife Claudette (Teri Hatcher), a shady DEA agent, a mafia kingpin, and a trio of murderous thugs, and you have more than enough plotting and characters for several movies. Director Phil Joanou mixes this plethora of ever so familiar ingredients together into a surprisingly good gumbo. The plot points may be predictable, but Joanou makes them enjoyable to watch. The cast tries hard, as if not recognizing their shallow characters for what they are, and perhaps some of that effort actually acomplishes something.

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