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TV Reviews : ‘Night Walk’: Trite Plot, Languid Performances

“Night Walk,” a TV movie airing Sunday at 9 p.m. (Channels 2 and 8), offers one of the dustiest plots in the book--police lieutenant falls for gorgeous witness he’s protecting from hit men--and doesn’t add the slightest wrinkle to its underdeveloped formula. Stylistically, though, it’s far enough off the usual TV track to be slightly above average for the cathode-ray cop genre.

A half-hour into it, it’s not quite clear whether lead player Robert Urich is turning in a really uninvolved, lethargic, lackluster performance or just fitting in with the film’s unusually relaxed naturalist style. At the end of two hours, we still aren’t sure. You might want to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, given that writers and executive producers Renee and Harry Longstreet have concocted a script full of low-key interchanges in which characters have trouble connecting, and Jerrold Freedman has directed it in a slow-moving, pause-filled fashion more befitting the European cinema than slam-bang prime time.

More care has been given to the often surprisingly witty incidental dialogue (Urich, coming home and finding his kids watching soft-core porn, mocks them: “Please, Dad, can we have cable? We don’t wanna miss all the sports on ESPN, and the Disney Channel . . . .”) than on fleshing out the undernourished thriller elements.

Lesley-Anne Down is the love interest who, while on leave from her nasty attorney of a husband, witnesses a murder that seems to have left behind no clues--which doesn’t stop two triggermen from trying to gun down her and any badge who tries to protect her. Anyone who can’t figure out where this is headed at least 10 or 20 minutes before it’s over probably needs a physical, yet the oddly real-time, real-life tone of the film puts an intriguing spin on its trip toward inevitability.

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