Timothy Olyphant makes a fine action-movie star: Loose-limbed and handsome, he evokes a nice, levelheaded “can you believe this shit?” appeal when things start to go crazy. And so he’s the perfect lead for a remake of George Romero’s horror film The Crazies; his Sheriff Dutton is smart, satisfied with his small-town life but perfectly willing to, say, fight off slavering hordes of virus-crazed townsfolk if the situation calls for it. As a pathological madness spreads pathologically through the town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, Dutton mourns the friends and neighbors he’s forced to kill even as he lights them on fire and stabs them to death in creepily inventive ways.

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The Crazies tries to be a whole bunch of different things at once: a gore-porn festival (not Saw-level nastiness, but more painful to watch than your typical zombie movie), an antiauthoritarian romp (despite all the raving plague-infested monsters running around, the real enemy here is the U.S. Army, which sweeps in to seize control over Ogden Marsh), and a running-to-survive thriller. Olyphant leads a strong cast (Radha Mitchell as Dutton’s pregnant wife, Joe Anderson as the stalwart deputy), but the movie stutters and grinds to a halt in too many places.

Because of this cast, you want to like The Crazies more than you actually do. Unfortunately, it’s awash in cinematic cliché and several glaring collapses of internal logic. (Can we please put a stop to satellite images with computer font overlays accompanied by “deet-deet-deet” sound effects? And why do the enraged townies sadistically murder everyone they see except for the one time they’re cogent enough to tie someone up and use them as a hostage?) For the middle of March doldrums, The Crazies delivers enough to warrant your attention—a quick glance at the movie listings will tell you that nothing else in theaters is that great right now, either—but it’s an eminently disposable entertainment. recommended