In this carefully crafted suspense thriller, a group of problem students at an exclusive Northeastern prep school band together to wage a desperate and deadly campaign against terrorists who lay siege to their school in an effort to free a Colombian drug lord from an American prison.
is a slick dose of high-concept absurdity, and lots of fun if you don't think about it afterward. Adapted from a novel by William P. Kennedy, it's got the swift momentum that's a specialty of screenwriter David Koepp, whose later credits include Jurassic Park
. Matching Koepp's narrative energy is director and cowriter Daniel Petrie Jr., who wrote Beverly Hills Cop
, and whose big-screen career stalled after this crowd-pleasing debut. The hokey plot involves a class of prep-school misfits (led by Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton) who use their rebellious ingenuity to foil Colombian terrorists who've taken over their school. The lead villain (Andrew Divoff) demands the return of his extradited drug-lord father (one of the prep students is the residing judge's son), and the inevitable showdown provides a heady mix of nonsense, graphic violence, and military muscle. It shouldn't work but it does, especially if you've got a tolerance for Die Hard
clones that barely pass inspection. --Jeff Shannon