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Daylight Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 1998


Universal Studios Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya
release year: 1996
film rating: Two and a half stars
reviewed by: Bill Warren

Although the cast and the (literally) smashing ILM special effects are up to date, at heart ‘Daylight’ is very much a ‘70s disaster flick, right down to the irrelevant pop ballad over the closing credits (in this case, "Wherever There Is Love" sung by Donna Summer).

The catastrophe here is an explosion in the commuter tunnel connecting New York City to New Jersey (the tunnel interiors were actually shot in Italy). When thieves careen into a truck carrying illegal toxic waste, hundreds in the tunnel are killed outright by the horrific explosion. Survivors are trapped by an environment that looks a lot like Hell, with waves of fire, flood and cement coming at them every which way. We--and they--wonder how they can possibly escape. Enter Sylvester Stallone’s character Kit Latura, now a humble cab driver but recently employed in another profession that, well, qualifies him to be played by Stallone.

Director Rob Cohen and writer Leslie Bohem invent a number of impressively scary ways to jeopardize the characters and Benjamin Fernandez’s production design for the wrecked, flame-belching, water-pumping tunnel is suitably Dantesque.

Good action/sound sequences can be found throughout. The initial escalating fireball in Chapter 8 is particularly impressive--although we know what’s coming, the sequence is startling in its length and sustained intensity. Chapter 40 provides a sort of optical/aural reversal in which a similarly expansive detonation occurs underwater. There’s also a nifty feat of physical derring-do in Chapter 18 involving huge rotating fans that look like something Han Solo might face. The DVD’s DTS sound option requires a DTS decoder, but even the regular Surround track dramatically socks home the roaring multi-part explosions and thundering floodwaters.

Had ‘Daylight’ actually been released in the ‘70s, it would have been hailed as a topnotch example of its genre. However, in the intervening years, some of its story elements, characters and dialogue topics have become so familiar that they ought to be applied more sparingly, or at least not all thrown together in this manner. (There’s a sequence straight out of ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ in ‘Daylight,’ right up to which character suffers a fatality as a result.) Still, if you don’t mind some cheese sandwiched between the stunts and special effects, ‘Daylight’ is pretty diverting.

more details
sound format:
DTS 5.1 Surround; Dolby Surround
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 36-inch Sony XBR

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