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Review: Inspired by classic noir, ‘Dead on Arrival’ is aggressively uninspired

Billy Flynn in the movie “Dead on Arrival.”
(Vision Films)

“Dead on Arrival,” a crime-thriller inspired by the 1949 film noir classic “D.O.A.” (remade by Touchstone with Dennis Quaid in 1988), although not quite a corpse of a movie, contains nowhere near the vitality and urgency it needs to justify its existence.

This is especially true given the story’s built-in ticking-clock conceit: An innocent man is poisoned and has only 24 hours to live and discover his “murderer.”

But writer-director Stephen C. Sepher spends more time conjuring up an array of sleazy or shady characters and finding ways to put sexy young women in revealing outfits than in building the requisite tension. It’s all rather low-rent and generic, not particularly distinguished by its overused Bayou setting.

In addition, except for some marital issues, we learn little about protagonist Sam Collins (Billy Flynn of TV’s “Days of Our Lives”), a visiting pharmaceutical salesman who’s poisoned at a New Year’s Eve party hosted by a doctor (Billy Slaughter). As a result, our emotional investment in Sam is low as he stumbles from one fraught situation to another.

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Good and bad cops (Christopher Rob Bowen, Tyson Sullivan), bantering homicide detectives (D.B. Sweeney, Nazo Bravo), mob types (Lillo Brancato, Anthony Sinopoli, Sepher), femme fatales (Scottie Thompson, Christa B. Allen) and a depraved insurance broker (Chris Mulkey) further populate this contrived, unconvincing mystery.

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‘Dead on Arrival’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

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Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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