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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Actually, a minor but diverting film about marginally alcoholic ex-cop
Jeff Bridges, now a private investigator, who is hired by hooker
Alexandra Paul to protect her. He fails. She dies.
He spends the rest of the film tracking down her killers with the reluctant help of Paul's pimp, Randy Brooks, and one of Paul's stable mates, Roseanna Arquette. He soon links the killing to Latino drug boss Andy Garcia, who killed Paul in an attempt to protect his means of smuggling cocaine into the country. The plot's a bit complicated but that's about all you need to know, going in.
Bridges is an interesting actor. He usually brings something extra to each of his roles, but here, with his dark mustache and the chronic temptation to booze it up again, he seems to hold back. Not that he does a poor job, just that he's been more inventive in other roles.
Alexandra Paul doesn't last long. Too bad because there's an engaging scene in which she gets stoned on coke and examines her pudendum in the light from a refrigerator. She's not a bravura actress. Neither is Roseanna Arquette, with her little-girl's voice, but Arquette exhibits some over-sized features of face and figure. She has a bosom with authority, for one thing, and large lips and incisors that are at the same time inviting and frightening. Andy Garcia is always a presence on screen. He's terribly slick. But Randy Brooks as the pimp is stuck with a one-dimensional part. There are several subordinate thugs and assorted goons who are mainly around to gin up the body count.
Hal Ashby has directed some interesting stuff before, but here he allows -- or seems to allow -- his actors to improvise long talky scenes, mainly arguments. Garcia really picks up the ball and runs with it. Everybody is addressed as "man" or "baby." Sometimes the calumny reaches majestic proportions just before it all explodes. At other time, like near a stadium or in Garcia's flamboyant, Gaudi-designed house, it leads only to anti-climax. The final shoot out in an unusual location is de rigueur.
It's not insulting. Nothing blows up, No heads are wrenched off. Blood is minimal. It's absorbing in its own way since it pretends to be nothing more than what it is -- no "Chinatown," just another routine private-eye thriller.
I've seen this fine film many times. First back in the 80's when it
came out, on copied VHS, with water colored screen, it looked better
than your usual crime flick of that era. The story and the script are
pretty usual but the acting and the feel was great. Jeff Bridges was in
top form circa 1985, and by that I mean his acting form, although the
movies he appeared in weren't that great. But he was, and Andy Garcia,
who I first saw in this film, was no ordinary villain. He was evil
incarnate behind the boy's face. Those two made the movie, their
interaction and friction made sparks that lifted the story above ground
and supporting cast held it together,(above all Rosanna Arquette and
Randy Brooks), and it never looked like once great director Hal Ashby
was in his heyday, was loosing it on the set. The movie delivered. It's
no "Body Heat", but it's far better than most of silly, superficial,
with "plot holes you can lead elephants through", popular movies of
that decade. That's why I never understood it's poor rating. There are
movies like this one, that are more than decent and they wallow in
mediocrity while others, that didn't even deserve to be released, have
been on DVD and even Blue-ray, long ago.
Years later, I had to dispose of my old battle weary VHS copy of this film, haven't seen it for almost 15 years,and than had a good chance to catch it on satellite. The years went by, but I still had the same emotions watching it, as I did more than 20 years ago. That's when you know that something is gotta be good. Give it a chance, you won't regret it.
Seeing it again recently has made me appreciate this film even more. I see
it now as one of various films that define classic 80's movies. It has all
the great elements: cocaine, pimps, drug-lords, world-weary ex-cops, car
chases and of course, all shot in sun-drenched L.A.
It would make a perfect companian piece to similar 80's movies: SALVADOR, TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA and SCARFACE. All seems to represent that decades' mean excess in glorious fashion.
Jeff Bridges is masterful - alcoholic, unshaven and mean. Rosanna Arquette (always a favorite) is terrific as a used-up hooker. And Andy Garcia turns in a monumental performance as a low-life, scumbag druglord - complete with an over-the-top accent!
L.A. never looked so quintessential.
This movie may have more f-words than any other during the eighties. It's a decent flick with both Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette giving very good performances. There is a sense of danger throughout the entire movie that never lets up. Andy Garcia is also good in one of his earliest roles as the bad guy Angel. The script was written by Oliver Stone before he became famous and isn't bad. The worst part of the movie is probably the direction by Hal Ashby, while a great director it just seems like he wasn't sure about what sort of movie he was making. LA looks sleazy just like it should in this sort of movie. The sun is bright and the sky is gray and cloudy with smog. This is a good movie to rent, but don't try and watch on regular TV because most of the dialogue will have to be cut. It would turn into a silent movie. Still I recommend this to any fans of film noir and detective movies.
Overall, this is a dreary but sometimes suspenseful film that wasted a good performance by Bridges and a new guy named Andy Garcia. Garcia's great portrayal of a snow-cone offering evil drug kingpin is unfortunately the films' only bright spot. When you see this, you wonder why "Godfather part 3" didn't happen sooner.
A cop, played by Jeff Bridges, shoots an unarmed assailant and is taken
off the force. From there, his subsequent alcoholism contributes to the
failure of his marriage, and he tries to fix things by going to AA. He
meets a woman who leads him into a dark world of a drug dealer.
This is one of those films I had always wondered about since I first remember seeing video tapes as a child. My father had a VHS copy that sat in the lounge under the VCR. On the cover was a hero with a gun, two women and a cool sports car, and the palm tree suggesting a Miami Vice-style environment.
I remember seeing the video case so many times and making a note to watch it. Fast forward 25 years later and I've finally seen it. It was a really cool opening with a helicopter flight over city skyscrapers which, in a single shot, catches up to a police car moving along a freeway. The music is cool and pure 1980s action.
The rest of the film, however, is a bit odd. There was just something not right about it. It turns out that the whole script dialog was improvised, which may explain a big, over-the-top swearing and shouting match that has to be seen to be believed.
There's a cool but brief car chase and Jeff Bridges moves through the film with a casualness and ease that seems at odds with what's going on around him.
Andy Garcia's character is strange, hard to understand. Sometimes he does weird things. But he's the villain and out to get Jeff Bridges.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The locations alone are magnificent. The acting is sloppy,
unpredictable and right in your face. The actors give performances that
will sit on their resumes forever. The plot is goofy, draggy and
ultimately unnecessary to your enjoyment. Jeff rules as a lost man
caught off guard who fights back with his brain.
I love this movie because it stood out among the pile of straight-to-cable trash that ruled the mid-eighties.
Some of the scenes between Garcia and Bridges are absolutely horrifying in their intensity.
It's not a detective movie. It's not really a drama, nor a thriller. It's more of a movie movie.
I don't think Lawrence Block has anything to be ashamed of. I've seen "Burglar", where the location is changed, and the sex and color of his hero are switched. As Larry McMurtry once said, when asked if he liked what Hollywood had done to his books, "If they spell your name right on the check, then their writing serves your writing well."
The plot is not new, very much used in other films of crime, but it is interesting to see good acting of Jeff Bridges as an alcoholic trying to quit this bad habit. Andy Garcia is also good playing as a very terrible and implacable boss of the gang. Rossana Arquette played modestly, but her acting showing his better body parts promotes the excitement. If you piece by piece of the film you will conclude that it is not as bad as it may be its original plot.
Being a huge fan of Lawrence Block and his books, I just wish this had been
named something else and had broken entirely from Block's novel so that the
Scudder series wouldnt be weighed down by this bomb.
If you're going to change the locale (Scudder in LA - please), the plot, the characters and the entire feel of the novel, then why bother. Really terrible film - too bad this had to be Block's first filmed novel. Wish someone would try again.
A total piece of cr*p.
I mean, in places it's actually something like the real thing, in its
deafening noise and cold, flat brutality.
This is relatively unusual, in a day when most movie gunplay seems to have to involve a lot of acrobatic somersaulting on trampolines and flying around on wires, while firing two guns simultaneously with each hand. In this respect the film can be compared to films like _Way of the Gun_ and _Thief_ and _Heat_.
Furthermore, I have seldom seen a really bad, serious, almost deadly alcohol hangover depicted better. I mean the part where Cutter comes to in the rehab center or whatever it is supposed to be. I really felt for the poor guy. It's the kind of thing very few non-drinkers will ever be able to understand.
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