Vietnam veteran Ray Hicks gets conned into helping his buddy John Converse smuggle some heroin, only to wind up on the lam with John's wife when the deal goes sour. Written by
Alan Sepinwall <email@example.com>
Maltese Falcon is a better movie than the book, and so is this baby. Good as the books are. Of course there would have been neither without the books, but both books wander all over the place, and are not the better for it. Whereas this one, and Maltese and for that matter, Treasure of Sierra Madre, are the richer experiences on the screen for being tightened down. The casting was perfect here. Even Zerbe is a wonderful surprise. The only cavil I have with the overall effect is the dumb title. Terrible. Dog Soldiers would have been fine. But after that, there is not much amiss here. Starting with the dope deal, quite unlike the start of the novel, it moves relentlessly as a snake from then on to its end, which is also unlike the novel, and the better for it. Robert Stone writes some of the, if not THE finest dialog in modern American literature: I have always had problems with his wandering stories, but if it takes them to produce his characters sparkling talk, what the hell, so be it. And what other movie would even THINK of using Hank Snow's Golden Rocket for the music of a great great shootout. Also not in the book. All hands here can be proud of a work that time is gonna treat with the utmost tenderness. If it has one misstep it is right at the first: the explosions tossing Moriarity around are at distinct odds with the slow buildup of the rest of it. But a minor matter, considering how dead on perfect most of the rest of the film is. So good this one is, it's no wonder that the great masses missed it's perfection.
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