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The Lightship (1985)

PG-13 | | Drama | 26 September 1986 (USA)
A trio of robbers, two brothers and their twisted genius leader, invade a lightship, but don't reckon on the crew fighting back.

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(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Calvin Caspary
...
Captain Miller
Tim Phillips ...
Thorne
...
Eddie
...
Gene
Michal Skolimowski ...
Alex (as Michael Lyndon)
...
Stump
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Coop
Badja Djola ...
Nate
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Storyline

Just when US Coast Guard captain Miller takes his teenage son Alex to his lightship off the coast of Virginia, Calvin Caspary and two criminal accomplices, on the run for the police, decide to hijack it. What the crazy trio didn't count on is that this small crew doesn't just keep taking it lying low, they will put up a fight. Alex hides dad's gun and wrestles his his war past and courage. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The guiding light in a sea of treachery.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

26 September 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Killers at Sea  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Star Billing: Robert Duvall (1st) and Klaus Maria Brandauer (2nd). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Alex: [narrating] My old man was a captain in the Coast Guard. We never saw too much of each other. Most of the time he was away at sea. But this time I was lucky. He made it to my graduation.
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Connections

Remade as Das Feuerschiff (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Exciting thriller, average drama.
15 March 2014 | by (São Paulo, Brazil) – See all my reviews

War is over some 10 years ago, the time of tragedy has passed by and has taken its toll on Captain Miller (Klaus Maria Brandauer, good), now currently dealing with his rebel teenage son Alex (Michal Skolimowski, the director's son), bailing out of the jail after another rebellious act of his. Miller takes his son to stay with him to live on a lightship, stranded somewhere, to help with the ships that come and go in that route. What the Captain couldn't predict was that this simple lightship and its small crew consisting of mechanical workers (Robert Costanzo and Tom Bower), a cook (Badja Djola) and one military (Tim Phillips), would be taken by two armed and menacing robbers (Arliss Howard and William Forsythe) and their smooth-talking leader (Robert Duvall), rescued after they boat had some problems and they take the ship for whatever reasons, forcing everyone there to stay cool and don't fight back. Miller is bound to do that, but will the crew and even his troubled son, already conflicted with his father during his absence during the war, will be able to conform and not react against the invaders?

"The Lightship" breaks from the routine of being a simple thriller by giving us a wit duel between two opposite poles on the same coin: the honorable Captain Miller, peaceful more than ever after surviving a terrible tragedy during the war; and Calvin, the group leader, also making the possible to preserve the life of his crew but knowing exactly what he's doing in the boat. While both men share their life's stories and try to find weaknesses and strengths in one another, both of their teams are about to collide and tragedy may ensue. And that's when the movie finally takes off, after some unexplained points, half constructed dialogs which carry little significance, and we wonder how much of the film was cut or rushed (that's why the narration by Miller's son from time to time).

The dramatic exercise works sometimes with all the mystery surrounding Captain Miller and his strict decision of not fighting back (even that his crew is eager to follow him, and there's guns hidden in the ship, not to mention they can improvise more weapons). But the exchanges between him and Calvin are far from right, usually lost in substance or without causing interest in the audience, more concerned in the eventual clash between the men from both sides. And that doesn't disappoint. "The Lighsthip" is a heart-stopping thriller with one sequence better than other. The ship's takeover was a disappointment, probably some scenes were cut from the film (one minute there's an argument between Bower and Forsythe, and in the next shot, the robbers are breaking the radio); it was confusing just as much as a reason of why they're there - probably running from the police, as some say, and now they need a new boat to escape. But the cook's revenge against one of the lunatics, during the storm, is terrifying and powerfully made.

The thesis proved here is that intelligence and wisdom must follow a whole set of actions, and good intentions must be thrown away when the rules are changed. If only they knew...8/10


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