‘Second Nature’ borrows aplenty, with little return

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Times Staff Writer

Blend the behavior-modification theme from “A Clockwork Orange,” the implanted-memory motif of “Total Recall” and the staged-reality elements of “The Game,” and you might end up with one thought-provoking thriller.

But more likely you’d be left with a soggy mess like “Second Nature,” an ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying original movie from TNT (Sunday at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight).

Alec Baldwin is the star and executive producer of the two-hour grab bag, in which his character, Paul Kane, survives a small-plane crash that claims his family as well as a good chunk of his memory.


An American living in England, Kane recuperates in a hospital under the care of a delectable doctor (Louise Lombard), and soon he begins to recall his career work as a London-based agent for the U.S. government. His creepy boss (Powers Boothe) then starts hanging around, worried about what secrets Kane might inadvertently spill to the good doctor. But when just about everyone he’s met begins to act suspiciously, Kane bolts the hospital and tries to stay alive long enough to sort the whole thing out.

Along the way, the movie sprouts more influences. The dinged-up spy-on-the-run from “The Bourne Identity”; “Butch Cassidy’s” high-dive escape from pursuers; Bondian attache cases and karate fights.

It almost becomes a “spot the reference” game in itself, which is a nice diversion because the plot twists become more erratic and less believable as the movie wears on.

In the end, “Second Nature’s” attempt to cobble together a whole from some terrific borrowed parts falls short, and despite the charismatic pairing of Baldwin and Lombard, the half-baked memory malarkey makes this one to forget.