In Deep Impact, the latest installment in a wave of '70s-disaster-movie-inspired features, Téa Leoni plays an MSNBC reporter (we know this because that channel's insignia is flashed in every other scene) who accidentally breaks the news that a giant comet is heading toward earth, and that all life on the planet is threatened with extinction. Of course, anyone who's seen Deep Impact's trailer already knows that Earth gets hit and chaos ensues: It's just a matter of waiting for it to happen. Deep Impact is packed with consistency errors and physics-defying anomalies, but these things can be expected of any big-budget marketing exercise—though the actual disaster scenes are shot on a grainy film stock, a lazy way to skirt issues of CGI quality. If director Mimi Leder is really guilty of anything, it's of wasting three first-rate actors (Morgan Freeman, Vanessa Redgrave, and Robert Duvall) in underdeveloped roles while allowing Leoni's shell-shocked, unconvincing turn to become an embarrassment. For anyone still wondering whether Leder (who tanked with last summer's The Peacemaker) can make action movies as well as the already-established big boys in Hollywood, Deep Impact affirms her craft. But it takes only a passing glance at the glossy work of such hacks as Simon West and Tony Scott to notice that the company she keeps is not the stuff of Oscar lore.
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