"Physical Evidence" wants very much to be "The Jagged Edge," but there are two main problems with this one: never for a minute do we think Burt Reynolds might be guilty, and even harder to swallow is that he and Russell could even like each other, much less become lovers.

The story is set in Boston, where Reynolds is an ex-cop accused of murdering a sleazy informant who dies in the opening scene, under the credits, a stunt sequence that oddly resembles the opening moments in a James Bond movie.Theresa Russell is a poor little rich girl who has spent five years in the Peace Corps and is now working as a public defender. She is ambitious, she is gorgeous, and her boyfriend gives her a Rolex watch instead of a wedding ring.

Ned Beatty is the hot-headed district attorney determined to put Reynolds away and a died-in-the-wool male chauvanist pig out to knock Russell off her pedestal.

There are lots of other characters who are supposed to be quirky, eccentric and endearing, but who are instead mostly obnoxious, forced to spout dialogue that sounds like it was lifted from two dozen other very bad movies.

"Physical Evidence" is a thriller without thrills, a mystery that is no mystery, and a movie that's so badly written one wonders why Reynolds, after a string of flops, would even consider it. Meanwhile Russell, one of our better actresses, gives the most stilted, unbelievable performance of her career.

Any way you look at it, "Physical Evidence," rated R for violence and profanity, is a complete mess and already qualifies as one of 1989's worst movies.

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