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27 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Don't Laugh. One of the Best Films of The 1980's.

Author: Eric Chapman ( from Pittsburgh, PA
7 September 2001

I can just picture the expressions on the faces of Treat Williams and Kris Kristofferson, a pair of actors whose talents haven't always been well utilized by Hollywood, after reading this script. One can imagine them scrambling for the phone, knocking things over, frantically dialing their agent's number and blurting out "Yes! Yes! I'll do it! Are you kidding? Hell, I'll do it for free!" Films this bold and unspoiled don't come along very often these days.

Blends elements of works as diverse as "A Simple Plan", "The Parallax View", "All The President's Men", "The X-Files" and even Orwell's "1984" (the motion detector plot point) to create a sublime, spine-tingling mystery. The first time director William Tannen, approaches the disturbing central theme of his piece in a startlingly original way. He circles it, surrounds it, then closes in with the cunning of a fox and the daring of an assassin. There are subtle (very subtle) hints along the way, particularly if you listen closely to steel-eyed Kurtwood Smith's jaw-dropping diatribe in which he blisters the so-called "American Way" in no uncertain terms. "This whole f***ing nation is politics" he hisses. But they are merely hints making the slyly implied, almost subliminal conclusion that much more of a stunner. Undoubtedly a film that requires its audience to pay extremely close attention to every line, every gesture, every nuance, every single frame of film. The attentive viewer will be amply rewarded.

Williams and Kristofferson are weary, prankish (think Hawkeye and Honeycutt from M*A*S*H) border patrol officers waging a futile battle against the steady flow of illegal immigration from Mexico into Texas. K.K. is a laid back cynic, a decorated Vietnam veteran with an easy-going disposition that masks a simmering resentment towards lock-kneed bureaucracy. Williams is a stubborn, uneducated idealist, a hothead unafraid to speak out against the injustice, corruption and plain foolishness he encounters on his job every day. K.K. no longer has any illusions about "making a difference" but loves the feeling of riding around in his jeep through a beautiful lonely desert, and glories in the thrill of the chase. Williams clings to the slippery notion that, despite his shortcomings, he's one of the last of the good guys, that his uniform does indeed stand for something decent and noble. Their friendship and camaraderie is deep and real in a way few in movies out of Hollywood ever are.

The two of them are in a state of increasing anxiety as a result of their superiors' arrogant, short-sighted decision to rely on a new motion detector technology to "assist" border patrol units in performing these difficult, high stress jobs. K.K. and Williams are convinced that this reliance will at worst render 3/4 of uniformed personnel useless and soon put them out of work, and at best will severely alter the complexion of their day to day duties. They fear it will rob them of their sense of freedom and adventure. (Williams is by no means thrilled at the prospect of sitting in a room staring at a computer screen all day.)

Fed up, they are both looking for a ticket out. K.K. seems to find one in the form of a wrecked jeep buried under mounds of dirt and mud in the middle of nowhere. He unearths $800,000 in cash in the wreckage as well as the driver's skeletal remains. A look at the corpse's license reveals that, amazingly, he must have been rotting there undiscovered for at least 20 years, placing his last moments alive somewhere in the early 1960's. Wisely reasoning that if the money has gone un-missed for that long, he has as much right as anyone else to claim it, K.K. wants to split the cash with his buddy Williams and take off immediately for Mexico. Williams is tempted, as anyone in his shoes would be, but has his doubts. It doesn't pass the smell test and also won't quite square with his nagging personal code of honor.

To placate Williams K.K. allows himself to be talked into doing some detective work first, to see if they're able to determine who exactly the money once belonged to, and whether or not it's clean. At a certain point in this investigation they come to the shocking realization that they're up against an evil so defiant, so entrenched that even when staring down the barrel of a loaded revolver it won't budge an inch. It all hits home in one of the most chillingly emblematic shots in the history of American film: the pair have just made a gruesome discovery inside an abandoned shack in the desert; the camera pulls back to show them staggering outside silently and dropping to their knees in horror against a backdrop of sand and sky.

"Flashpoint" stands besides films such as "Treasure of The Sierra Madre" and Rod Serling's "Patterns" as unflinching, uniquely American movies that reveal more about who we really are at different points in our tumultuous history than just about any other hundred films combined. It will give future generations a strong sense of what our hopes, our fears, our struggles and suspicions truly were at the time. Its clear-eyed, uncompromised vision is so atypical it's jarring. You keep expecting it to take some wrong turn down Formula Road as so many other conspiracy thrillers do, but it bravely sticks to its narrow, bumpy, unpaved path.

Scoff all you want, and of course this movie has been virtually ignored by critics and audiences for going on 17 years now, but this is one of the best movies of its decade. Rip Torn's sage advice for a shell-shocked Kristofferson at the end will stick with you. "Don't be a martyr. We already got enough of those. Be different. Be the one that got away."

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

I still love this movie

Author: Charles (
25 July 2002

HBO movie that was shown on their network and also shown in theatres{at least in my area}.From the outset i think the story was both intriguing and thought provoking.Treat Williams does an excellent job as the disgruntled border patrol agent who is so fed up things that anything will set him off.The desert scenes were shot very well and the music from Tangerine Dream just goes exceptionally well throughout the picture.My only complaint is with the editing off the movie which was a few holes but i will give first-time director William Tannen a break there.Great ensemble of cast including Rip Torn who never dissapoints.The movie is peppered here and there with some pretty humorous moments which just add to the enjoyment of the film.I had been waiting for a dvd version to come out but i gave up recently and got the new vhs version which wasn't too bad.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

come for the plot-decoding challenge; stay for the characterizations.

Author: malcolmi from Canada
12 September 2006

Eight hundred thousand dollars buried in desert sand in a wrecked Jeep just might be a ticket out of a Border Patrol job turning more bureaucratic and stifling by the moment. Agents Kris Kristofferson and Treat Williams try to find where the dollars, and the Jeep, and its dead driver,have come from. They'd like to split with the money and escape the irritating changes about to drive them off the Texas desert they know so well, but honesty and curiosity compel them to make sure the money's not tainted. Federal agent Kurtwood Smith, in from Washington knowing all the answers full well, has other plans for them.

I saw this film in its first release in 1984, and admired the way in which the script explored nuances of the conspiracy-fuelled '60s in American society and politics. I also liked the skill with which the script dropped hints and clues that, by film's end, were perfectly clear and coherent - a pleasing adjunct to the major puzzle of the decade. But in the years of watching it since, I've come to like best the acting skills which the cast, ably directed, demonstrate with texture and charm. Kristofferson and Williams are among the most appealing buddies you'll find in any thriller - in fact I can't think of a better pair; they complement each other as well as Al Pacino and John Goodman do in Sea of Love, and that's the highest praise I can offer. I can't think why Kristofferson and Williams (or Pacino and Goodman, for that matter) haven't been paired again by an enterprising producer. Jean Smart and Tess Harper are equally charming and nuanced in smaller roles made large by Smart's fiery energy and Harper's thoughtful attractiveness. Miguel Ferrer and Guy Boyd are perfect as a pair of amiably corrupt colleagues. On the dark side, Smith and Patrol boss Kevin Conway, as well as "Department of Public Safety" (ie. Texas Ranger) marshal Rip Torn, show how true villains are simply focused career men who believe implacably in the warped values they've espoused. Torn, at least, has the grace to change. At the end, he makes a statement to Kristofferson which might be our beacon too, our rationale for keeping up the search for truth in this lie-filled first decade of the new century: Looking back at his own choices, and forward to Kristofferson's tense future, Torn barks "Do it! Be the one who got away! Whatever happens, should've happened years ago." A very fine action film, remarkably well-performed.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Compelling mystery and suspense with big scenery

Author: A.N.
26 November 2003

For whatever reason this movie is one of my favorites. I like movies more for their overall atmosphere than any plot particulars, and this delivers those rare ingredients.

There's something intangible about the southwestern locations and the border patrol lifestyle that creates a mood not found in many films. The big desert vistas contrast well with the daily routines and grim duties of the characters.

I think "Flashpoint" is in a similar class with "Breakdown," where roller-coaster events keep unfolding and remain unpredictable until the very end. It may be somewhat obscure but I wouldn't call it a "B movie" by any means.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Flashpoint rare unseen gem

Author: MovieCriticMarvelfan from california
3 May 2004

William Tanner makes a very memorable and enjoyable flick with "Flashpoint". Good premise Treat Williams and Kris play two border portral guards going nowhere (like many in California). They soon uncover a buried dead body and jeep but next to that they find a bundle of cash. It turns out the cash was the loot of a former crook now dead.

Kristofferson's character wants to cash in the money and get the hell out of town but Williams characters wants to investigate why this sap got killed. LOL It's a little far fetch but the last half hour make up for it.

I loved another depiction of the FBI as the oorrupt greedy corporation they are especially with the guy from Robocop playing a crooked agent.

Could have used more action but "Flashpoint" has good acting and a good soundtrack.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Engaging Border Patrol Mystery.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
3 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'll skip the plot except to say that two Border Patrol agents find a horde of money in the desert, have a fight with nasties in which one agent is killed, and the survivor takes off with the stash for Mexico.

You can't help watching this without thinking of Jack Nicholson in "The Border." "The Border" is far more believable. The heavy turns out to be Nicholson's best friend. And when Nicholson tries to rescue a damsel in distress in a Mexican cat house the bouncers clobber him and throw him into the street. (There's a moral lesson there somewhere.) And the social problem dealt with is real -- illegal immigrants.

In "Flashpoint" everything is simpler. Except maybe the editing, which lost me here and there, someplace along Soledad Mountain and Thor Mountain and La Bonza Pass. Instead of commonplace human smuggling, "Flashpoint" has a Big Mystery that needs unraveling. There are James-Bond sorts of geophysical "ovulators" that are hidden in the ground and can tell when something passing is more than two feet tall.

There's very little ambiguity. We know right away which of the boys is strong and which is weak. Treat Williams comes to work drunk and the taller, older, deeper-voiced Kris Kristofferson must sober him up. And we know that Williams is the more idealistic of the two because there is a scene in which Kristofferson tells his girlfriend so. There are two women involved -- Tess Harper and Jean Smart -- and I like them because neither is staggeringly beautiful, but they really add nothing to the plot except to establish the fact that Kristofferson and Williams are not lovers themselves. The women disappear when no longer needed.

We know right away who the bad guys are too. Why? Because they LOOK bad. Kurtwood Smith. There's a name to conjure with. Like Michael Ironsides the poor guy is a die-stamped heavy. He looks like the kind of guy of whom the neighbors say, "He mostly kept to himself." His facial features are in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin. If he does nothing more than show his face he's guilty of indecent exposure. He cannot speak without sneering. He's insulting when he doesn't need to be. He's cynical and vulgar. He wears street shoes instead of boots -- and a SUIT. And of course he's a remorseless killer.

He represents a problem though, for those viewers given to trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. What is he actually DOING there? At one point he deliberately foils a drug bust. Is he there because of something to do with drugs? Evidently not, because later on he tries frantically to cover up the Big Mystery. Maybe that's his job. But in that case, why do he and his assistants show up before anyone even realizes that there is a Big Mystery to be solved? And what agency does he represent? Well, here's his explanation. Kristofferson: "Who are you?" Smith: "I'm a fixer. I fix things." Kristofferson: "What do you fix?" Smith: "Whatever needs fixing." The mind is inexorably whisked back to "The Border" because Harvey Keitel is in "The Border," and those are roughly his lines in two or three movies he's made with people like Quention Tarantino. On the other hand, similar job specs crop up pretty commonly all over the place, like chicken pox among third graders.

The acting is adequate. No more than that. There is a scene in "The Border" in which Nicholson and Keitel are leaving work and Keitel is rambling on thoughtfully about how little difference their work makes to anyone. The employers want the illegals, and the illegals want the work. Sometimes, Keitel muses, it almost seems like we're on the wrong side. At this point, Nicholson halts, half turns to Keitel, and asks, "What are you fishing for?" The scene only last thirty seconds yet it illustrates the difference between ordinary actors and very talented actors indeed. There is nothing like this scene in "Flashpoint." The lines all sound written out, and not always well. Treat Williams, who was great in "Prince of the City," is underwhelmed by the script here. He's given a joke to tell in a bar -- something about a car full of penguins -- and everyone at his table is drinking beer and flushed with laughter -- and the joke just isn't funny.

Yet the movie is engaging. Pale green Border Patrol jeeps bounce around on rough sandy desert roads. The Sonoran desert has never looked better. And Roberts Blossom as a wiry and sharp old aeronautical engineer is fun. I think the performance I most enjoyed was Rip Torn's. He's almost always good, but in the role of the sheriff he could easily pass for the home-grown Texan that he is. A real pro.

Worth seeing. No messages. A little confusing, but well paced and packed with mystery and color.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Suspenseful Adventure Enhanced by the Music of Tangerine Dream

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 September 2003

Bobby Logan (Kris Kristofferson) and Ernie Wyatt (Treat Williams) are Texas border officers working in the area of San Antonio. They both are threatened of loosing their jobs due to the utilization of a type of underground radars to locate illegal immigrants from Mexico. One day, Bobby finds a buried 1962 jeep, with a skeleton, a rifle and a wallet with US$ 800,000.00 (in 1984 – it was lots of money) in bills of 1962 and 1963 and shares this discover with his pal Ernie. These findings will jeopardize their lives, and this situation will long until the last scene of this suspenseful movie. A great thriller and adventure, that has traces of `The X-Files', with a mystery and conspiracy in the government without a conclusive end. Further, this movie is extremely enhanced by the music of Tangerine Dream. My vote is seven.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not genius, but a decent mystery

Author: noahsdad-31-285608 from United States
18 April 2011

I remember well watching Flashpoint on HBO in the summer 1984. It was a really good movie then, and remains one of my favorites today. This was one of the earliest filmmaking partnerships the fledgling cable movie network attempted. The success of Flashpoint, and a handful of others, eventually evolved into one of the most innovative film production companies in modern cinema.

While Flashpoint played in a handful of theaters in a few major markets, it was always intended for the small screen (that's what we called TV when a 27-inch CRT was considered big). I'm quite sure a 16:9 version does not even exist.

Based on the modestly successful novel by George LaFountaine, the film strays from the original story in many respects. As one might expect, the book is significantly longer, with a vastly more complicated plot. The characters of Logan and Wiatt are reversed in terms of their backgrounds and personalities. Desert Rat "Amarillo" and Sheriff Wells factor more thickly into the tale, and the Feds are even more ruthless - but the twist and payoff are the same.

Overall, director William Tannen's treatment is well done. It is clearly a modest budget film, I suspect the lion's share was spent on the drug bust scene and Kristofferson's contract. In case you didn't know, Kris was a hot property in the 80s, and commanded steep appearance fees. Treat Williams was a virtual unknown, as was Kurtwood Smith (later to gain fame as the father in "That 70s Show"). Rip Torn and Roberts Blossom are their usual brilliant, crusty, lovable selves. Tess Harper and Jean Smart both have limited roles, but provide a love interest for our protagonists, and additional visual appeal beyond the stunning panorama of the West Texas border country.

What really keeps this film rolling is the outstanding score by Tangerine Dream. It is alternately compelling and ominous in all the right places. The music is clearly 80s instrumentation, but has a timeless quality that keeps it fresh, even today. The curious choice of a poorly written and awkwardly performed Kristofferson ballad over the closing titles is the only flaw in the soundtrack; but again, that most likely resulted from over excitement at landing such a hot star for such a modest film.

If you're looking for a cinematic masterpiece, this isn't it. But if you enjoy a well-crafted mystery that brushes lightly against one of the pivotal points of the 20th century, Flashpoint is 90 minutes well spent.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Neat little Conspiracy Thriller

Author: dazfiddy from United Kingdom
24 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film hardly gets any showing on television, but it fits in nicely into the sub genre of conspiracy thriller movies like Executive Action,Winter Kills and The Parallex View.

This is a sideways look at the Kennnedy Conspiracy from the point of view of two bystanders who happen to be cops.Kris Kristoferson and Treat Williams play Border Patrol officers who stumbled upon a buried jeep, a body, a rifle and a whole lot of cash in the Texas desert.Who could it be?Why have the Feds shown up all of a sudden?Could there be a link?Should they take the money and split or investigate? It has a great cast of actors who would go on to be familiar faces like Tess Harper, Miguel Ferrer,Kurtwood Smith and Jean Smart.Kristoferson and Williams are always reliable actors.

This an interesting movie that asks what happened to the Other Gunmen if you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was not acting alone on 22 November 1963.Oliver Stone's JFK was then first big studio movie to explicitly challenge the Warren Commission report.Some films are made just before their time, which means that it will be overlooked.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Bizarre, confusing, but well worth watching

Author: mushrom from Alabama
2 January 2001

I remember seeing this movie when it first came out in 1984, and was frankly lost. But several years ago I found it on video and bought it. After seeing it all over again, I now understand it.

This movie is very similar in some ways to The Sixth Sense. There were lots of plot items sitting in the open, but you never see them. Clues and hints are dropped constantly into this movie. And at the end, is where they are all suddenly brought together.

I do not compare this to Sixth Sense for quality, but it is worth seeing in my opinion. Expecially if you are one of the JFK conspiracy nuts. There is enough information in this movie alone to give Oliver Stone 4 or 5 more movies.

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