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I'm a fan of director William Friedkin's work, but his TV effort 'C.A.T. Squad: Stalking Danger' is such an insult to the senses. If he was trying to the copy the success of Michael Mann's impressionable stint on TV (Miami Vice), by trying to set-up this feature as a pilot for a series (so from what I read) it comes crashing down. We open with odd stock footage, and then watch a hired assassin knock off some important people involved in a government project, and the C.A.T Squad are formed to take out this threat. Its old-hat story is a crafty patchwork of secretive details and gimmicks, but lacks involvement and never convinces. Dull fragmented background stories and idle chit-chat can't help out these tired and two-dimensional characters. Some things feel forced, it can lull quite often and few sequences have an awkward mushiness to them. Freidkin's direction is mechanically staged with his flair for action being too concise, but gladly he grinds out the blunt violence with sheer vigour. The camera follows well, but Ennio Morricone's music score is generically uninteresting. Joseph Cortese, Stephen W. James, Patricia Charbonneau and Edwin Velez simply go through the motions. He followed this one up with 'C.A.T. Squad: Python Wolf (1988)', but later that year he would hit form again with the terrific thriller 'Rampage (1988)'.
I'm a huge Friedkin fan, but this was not a very good film. Two good things about it: Steve James shines in his role as always, and Eddie "Napoleon" Velez of all people is so much better here than the rest of the cast that the wtf factor of him playing an international terrorist drops quite quickly. The boss Joseph Cortese looks tough as hell says such dopey lines you'd think it's all a parody. Action scenes are well done, but don't really make up for the abundance of dramatic scenes that have a pathetic edge. Ennio Morricone rehashes his old score from Almost Human (Milano Odia) which doesn't fit the tone of this film at all. Friedkin himself rehashes the beginning of Sorcerer on a smaller scale. Written by Gerald Petievich, the same guy who wrote To Live & Die In L.A., it's understandable that the dialogue isn't very good. But hey, this is out on DVD, so you should check it out!
The video box looked unpromising, but the director has earned enough
stripes to make this exercise worth a peek. (Or so I thought.) An Odd
Squad is on the trail of an international assassin, after the villain
knocks off innocent parties in most violent ways. The assassin himself
(Carlos?) is such a banal youth, it was hard to accept him as the
professional killer who was notorious at his game. Another moment
difficult to accept was that our heroes run into a competing squad of
spies after a common target. They're from Israel, and the target was
being pursued in New Jersey. Shouldn't that have been the cue for our
American heroes to put these foreign agents in the stir?
There was another mainstream film from a few years later (LOOSE CANNONS) where two American police detectives operating domestically ran into Mossad agents (led by a beautiful woman who would become the love interest), and then they teamed up... as if it was the most natural thing to do. What is the message here, some foreign countries are supposed to be such heroic allies that they are allowed free reign to blast away with their guns on U.S. soil?
The problem with this film is that the characters across the board are such soulless vehicles to carry the action forward that it's impossible to care for any of them. I only saw it hours ago, and already I'm forgetting entire scenes. Apparently William Friedkin was hoping to launch this idea as a series, but none of the networks bit. It's hard to understand why a once-great director would agree to sink so low.
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