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'90 Minutes in Heaven' review: A wreck of a movie

Eva (Kate Bosworth) and Don Piper (Hayden Christensen)

Eva (Kate Bosworth) and Don Piper (Hayden Christensen) in "90 Minutes in Heaven." Credit: TNS / Quantrell Colbert

"90 Minutes in Heaven" is an adaptation of pastor Don Piper's bestselling novel about his supposedly fatal car crash on Jan. 18, 1989. Piper was pronounced dead at the scene but, thanks to a fellow minister who stuck a prayerful hand into the wreckage, came back to life fully 90 minutes later. Piper spent that time in heaven, a place so glorious that he resented returning to Earth.

Viewers will be inclined to either believe or debunk this story, and nothing is likely to change their minds. "90 Minutes in Heaven" isn't in the conversion business, though. It never indulges in the pointless exercise of presenting empirical proof (unlike last year's exasperating "Heaven Is for Real"). This movie's sole aim is to turn Piper's book into a compelling, big-screen, cinematic experience. On that account, it fails utterly.

Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth play Piper and his wife, Eva, but these Hollywood actors can't give this low-quality movie the professional sheen it craves. For starters, the story is a shambles: The crucial car-wreck happens early, consigning Christensen to a hospital bed for nearly the entire film and relegating Bosworth to the unrewarding role of beleaguered spouse. What's more, Piper hardly ever mentions his heavenly visit, which he calls his "sacred secret." Instead, he gives us the blow-by-blow details of his numerous medical treatments, insurance problems (the film inadvertently makes a good argument for Obamacare) and long, painful recovery. If the film has a central conflict, it's Piper's battle with depression as doctors try to repair his crushed left leg.

The generally wooden acting doesn't help matters. Dwight Yoakam as a cheesy lawyer and Fred Dalton Thompson as a tough-talking minister seem to know what they're doing, but every other performer -- from the surgeon to the unnamed paramedic -- may as well be a robot.

Ploddingly directed and confusingly written by Michael Polish, "90 Minutes in Heaven" ends up feeling less like a story of inspiration and more like one man's litany of health problems. Rarely has a miracle been so boring.

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