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Film review: Next of Kin

Published: Thursday, Nov. 16 1989 12:00 a.m. MST

Patrick Swayze's new film "Next of Kin" may be an attempt to atone for his sins in "Road House," one of the year's worst movies, but it proves to be a nominee for the same list.

"Next of Kin" is a lame revenge yarn about Chicago cop Swayze returning to his Appalachian country-boy roots to avenge his brother's death.

The story has Swayze seemingly specializing in mountain-man murderers, since he is called to help when a good ol' boy has to be taken in after killing someone. But to demonstrate how cultured he is, Swayze is also married to a classical musician (the underused Helen Hunt).

Meanwhile, evil mobster Adam Baldwin is trying to take over his father's turf, though his younger brother is the favored son. One night Baldwin kills Swayze's brother, who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Swayze's family swears revenge.

But Swayze, of course, wants to find the killer, arrest him and let the criminal justice system take its course. Despite his protests, Swayze's other brother (Liam Neeson, in the film's best performance) comes to Chicago to get justice his own way.

In the end Swayze is called upon to throw down his badge and kill dozens of people, of course, but the end always justifies the means in movies like this.

Though "Next of Kin" is a by-the-numbers feature, it does have a few fight scenes and stunts that show some style (the director, John Irvin, also did Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Raw Deal"). But most of the movie is plodding and dull, and an especially bad idea was to make the mobsters comic characters, taking the edge off their villainy. They seem more like buffoon refugees from "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" than hitmen from "The Godfather."

Swayze comes off better in this movie than "Road House"; at least his character isn't quite so ridiculous. But when he grabs his crossbow to go up against guns in a cemetery shootout for the film's finale, he comes close.

"Next of Kin" is rated R for the expected mayhem and profanity.