|Page 1 of 3:||  |
|Index||29 reviews in total|
One of the things that bugs me most about the later Charles Bronson-movies
is that so many of them flaunt a terrible supporting cast. Don't get me
wrong, it's great to see Stephen Elliott ham it up as Bronson's boss in
"Assassination" or Juan Fernandez as a creepy pimp in "Kinjite: Forbidden
Subjects" but aside from one or two OK performances good old Charlie was too
often surrounded by grade-C actors or good but uninspired actors, the last
two decades of his career.
"Messenger of Death" however, is an exception.
Here the legendary action-hero is surrounded by the likes of Jeff Corey, Daniel Benzali, John Ireland, Charles Dierkop (Police Woman) and given likeable female support from Trish Van Devere. The story itself is just average, but certainly not as ludicrous as the paper-thin material in movies like "Assassination" and "Death Wish 4" and "5" and you know where I'm going.
British veteran director J. Lee-Thompson (Cape Fear, The Guns of Navarone) did an impressive nine movies with Bronson, and "Messenger of Death" was their 8th teaming. It opens with a horrifying scene where a large family is executed in cold blood (the entire scene is brilliantly done and much better than what one would expect from someone who just did "Death Wish 4" and "Firewalker"). The movie then delivers a lot of beautiful scenery, a smashing action-scene with some trucks and a likeable finale where the guilty party is unmasked.
Compared to most Bronson-fare at the time this is better-than-average, much thanks to the afore mentioned good supporting cast. But don't expect mindless vigilante action, Bronson plays a reporter but he still gets to kick some ass, and he does a nice job considering he was in his late sixties at the time.
Bronson is rather miscast as a reporter (who still can punch and defeat any opponent), but this is one of his least typical and most solid vehicles from the 80's. It begins with a weird, effectively staged massacre and includes some offbeat elements along with the familiar ones. It's still nothing special, though. It's one of those curiously forgettable films that keep you interested while you're watching them, but leave no lasting impression.
Try and beat THIS for an opening sequence! Images of women amiably chatting and young children peacefully playing in the morning sun get barbarically interrupted when suddenly a shady figure holding a shotgun comes driving up to the house. Without speaking one word, the man unhesitatingly butchers the women (one pregnant one) before turning towards the children and shooting them too. The latter killings occur off screen but the footage is nonetheless shocking considering the madman's emotionless modus operandi. This bit of content represents the promising beginning of a compelling and highly suspenseful albeit flawed thriller starring the almighty Charles Bronson in an unconventional (at least, for him) role. Charlie depicts a journalist of the Denver newspaper who sinks his teeth into the circumstances surrounding the tragic massacre and stumbles upon a story bigger than he bargained for. The murders initially appear to be a dramatic consequence of a long-running vendetta between a separated family of Mormons, but our courageous reporter gradually uncovers a convoluted and inhumanly cruel conspiracy which concerns of course eminent politicians and wealthy businessmen. I honestly expected to find a slightly higher rating and more positive-toned reviews for "Messenger of Death" around here to be honest. Admittedly the evolution of the storyline is rather predictable and the eventual settlement is too tame, but the film definitely maintains a high tempo and a good number of sequences are very tense and literally action-packed. Charles Bronson tries his hardest to come across as a plausible journalist, but there are definitely some problems regarding his character. Bronson isn't exactly known as the most talkative actor in Hollywood; a trademark that usually fits his regular roles of mercenaries ("The Mechanic", "Violent City") and tormented avengers (the "Death Wish" franchise) very well. But even here his number of speeches and dialogs are kept to an absolute minimum, which isn't normal when you're a reporter. Moreover, in spite of his 'normal' job and life-style, he still wipes the floor with professional hit men and stunt-drives his way out of an assassination attempt! Since when do Denver journalists receive training in martial arts and defensive driving? The remote Colorado filming locations, as well as the largely unfamiliar traditions of Mormon families, add up to the ominous atmosphere but still director J. Lee Thompson ("Cape Fear", "The Guns of Navarone") doesn't use up the full potential of these terrific. "Messenger of Death" is an interesting film, to say the least, and it deserves a bit more appreciation from Bronson fanatics as well as fans of suspense films in general.
Easily skip-able Charles Bronson movie that starts out strongly but doesn't follow through. He unconvincingly plays a Denver reporter covering a case of a Mormon family living in the Colorado mountains who had nine members massacred, including five children. He then sets out to find the killer by visiting the eccentric community and finds that much of the evidence leads to a family feud between two brothers, along with ties to a water company. Why Chuck's character would feel so personally bent on dealing out vengeance when it's not his own flesh and blood didn't ever strike me as authentic. J. Lee Thompson directs (as usual) and manages to serve up some pretty scenery along with a good cast including John Ireland and Jeff Corey, but this is rather weak tea. ** out of ****
Messenger of Death gives us a fast-paced and very efficient directed action movie (Thompson cuts the crap and always is completely to the point) with Bronson in quite a different sort of role (as a matter of fact, he kills nobody in the movie even acts as peace-keeper in some way) playing a journalist from Denver. One wonders if Cannon were only interested in getting the video rented when they came up with this title, especially in the context of the poster. People who think that Bronson himself is the Messenger will be disappointed, people interested in a decent story will pass this on for all the wrong reasons. The music score is great, the plot-twist okay and the scenery makes for something completely different after seeing Charlie death-wishing in the Big City gutters. And before I forget : Bronson's side-kick is played by the beautiful and great actress Trish van Devere. I only remember her from a Columbo episode long, long ago. Wasn't that 'Make me a perfect Murder ?'
Wifes and children of the Mormon Orville Beecham (Charles Dierkop)
become victims of a slaughter in his own house . The police believes
the massacre had a religious motive . Orville doesn't give any comment
on the investigation and he is taken into protective custody . Tough
'Denver Tribune' crime reporter Garret Smith (Bronson , he was about
sixty-six years of age when he appeared here) persuades him to help him
in the case of the slaying of his family . As there is an extreme feud
between different Mormon sects , one being led by Willis Beecham (Jeff
Corey) and the other led by his brother Zenas Beecham (John Ireland) .
Smith , helped by Jastra Watson (Trish Van Devere) , uncovers a strange
conspiracy around old-rich real state .
This light entertainment and standard Bronson movie is full of action , thrills , and disturbing scenes . Here Bronson rules in his usual stoic acting and displays efficiently his weapons , killing mercilessly nasties . The meaning and relevance of this movie's title is that it refers to a drawing featuring an avenging angel of death that is left at a crime scene at the beginning of the flick . The title also suggests that Bronson is a 'Messenger of Death', the word messenger also being a play on words with this, as his character is a reporter , a job which involves writing news articles , they being "messages" in a sense . In the film there is frantic action , thrilling car/trucks pursuits , shootouts , intrigue , little bit of violence and including a twisted as well as suspenseful finale . Based on a book and scripted by Paul Jarrico , as its source Rex Burns novel 'The Avenging Angel' was first published in 1983 , though the film has little in common with the novel it is based on . From the beginning until ending the action-packed and fast moving is continued and that's why the picture results to be entertaining . This is one of the last films (last movie was Kinjite) Charles Bronson made for Cannon Films and it represents the ninth and final of ten teamings between producer Pancho Kohner and star actor Bronson . Charles Bronson acting is wooden as being habitual in his roles as an investigator/executioner . Here he plays a reporter who carries out an investigation and finds out about economic motives for a massacre . This journalist evokes the crime writer character he played in St. Ives (1976) , the first movie he made with Thompson . The great spotlights of the film are the spectacular chases , car crashes between Bronson's car and the big juggernaut as well as the ending confrontation that's stimulating and moving . Nice and wide support cast , such as : Daniel Benzali , Marilyn Hasset , John Cedar , Penny Peyser , Tom Everett and Gene Davis who starred a heinous killer in ¨10 to midnight¨ by Thompson . Special mention for Laurence Luckinbill who gives an overacting with quite gesticulation . And the elders of this movie's religious groups are played by three stars of old Western movies : Charles Dierkop , Jeff Corey and John Ireland . It packs and evocative and adequate cinematography by Gideon Porath . Atmospheric soundtrack by Robert O. Ragland , including stirring choral score in the title and final credits composed in ¨Jerry Goldsmith's Omen¨ style .
The fare was regularly directed by J. Lee Thompson , though he fell ill during the making of this film , the picture was then finished by the first and 2nd unit director : Robert C. Ortwin Jr. and George Van Noy . It's narrated understanding as well as hardly . This movie represented the eighth and penultimate of nine teaming of director 'J Lee Thompson' with star actor Charles Bronson . This Thompson movie was theatrically released between his pictures Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1986) and Kinjite (1989) , both of them starred by Bronson . Thompson previously had a nice track record in the English cinema from 1950 until 1961 , directing good Western (McKenna's gold , White Buffalo) and all king genres as Sci-Fi (Conquest and Battle of planet of apes), terror (reincarnation of Peter Proud , Eye of the devil), adventures (Flame over India , Kings of the sun , Taras Bulba , Tiger Bay) and Warlike ( Guns of Navarone, Von Braun , Chairman , The passage). His two biggest successes turned out to be ¨Guns of Navarone¨and ¨Cape Fear¨. Thereafter , the filmmaker's career subsided in a morass of slickly realized but middling films. He moved into the field of international spectaculars , at which point his filmmaking seemed to lose its individuality . J. Lee Thomson working from the 50s in England, finished his career making Chuck Norris (Firewalker) and Charles Bronson vehicles (Caboblanco , Evil that men do, Messenger of death, Death Wish 4 : Crackdown, Caboblanco, St Ives). Firewalker rating : Mediocre but passable , but it will appeal to Charles Bronson fans
Director J. Lee Thompson used Charles Bronson more than any other actor in his eighties movies (Ten to Midnight, Cabo Blanco, Death Wish 4, Murphys Law) and this was his second to last outing with Bronson (the last being Kinjite:Forbidden Subjects). Charles Bronson plays Garrett Smith, a reporter who is very curious as to why a family of Mormons (women and children) were all shot to death in a rural farmhouse. He finds a sketch of an angel on a piece of paper that is taped to the wall where one of the victims bodies had laid against. From here, Bronson goes from source to source to try to unravel whatever mystery he has bounded himself in. For those who prefer the 'Paul Kersey/Death Wish' Charles Bronson, you might wanna look elsewhere for a movie, this is a Bronson action character of a different type. He seems to be a very laidback individual and he doesn't really possess that knack of persistently annoying people like most reporters do, but Bronson as usual makes the character work. The plot is very strong, the mystery of the movie definitely kept me guessing until the very, very end of the movie and then BANG! it's all over... I miss Cannon films...
The film has Charles Bronson in its favor, and is fairly well-made. It'a a little unbelievable, but fans of the genre or Bronson should enjoy it. Basically, Charles Bronson is an investigative reporter who investigates the slaying of a man's family, originally under the impression that the slaying was due to religious differences. One thing of minor note...it's not really a feud between different Mormon sects. The LDS Church has banned polygamy, in accordance with federal law, and excommunicates members who practice it. I suppose some might say that all the break-off groups(like the RLDS, FLDS and polygamist clans) can be considered part of a Mormon Religious Umbrella....but that would be kind of like saying members of the Russian Orthodox Church are really Catholic.
Charles Bronson plays investigative reporter Garret Smith for the
Denver Tribune in this motion picture about a blood feud between two
brothers, of different Mormon sects. With outside political as well as
A decent story about religious jealousy and the behind the scenes politics of exploiting it. The feud between brothers Willis, Jeff Corey, and Zenas, John Ireland, Beecham is instigated when Willis' son's Orville's, Charles Dierkop, family is massacred. Willis believes that it was the work of Zenas and starts an all out war against his brother which ends with both brothers getting killed. But there's something else that has nothing to do with the feud between the brother's that's central to the story: A lake of artesian water under brother's Zenas' property that can be used to turn common and plentiful shale into valuable and scarce fuel oil.
Charles Bronson is still believable, at age 67, as the tough reporter that gets to the bottom of the story with his fists as well as his typewriter to uncover the truth about Orville's family being murdered. As well as who ordered it that instigated a war between his father and uncle and why.
With the exception of the beginning the movie "Messenger of Death" cuts down on the violence and concentrated more on the story which made the movie more interesting to watch. And also gave the audience more time to think who's behind the murders that happened to the Orville Beecham family which built up to a better then average ending.
The ending of "Messenger of Death" though a bit contrived and what seemed forced still tied the story together and made it believable. One of Charles Bronson's best later efforts when he was still effective as an action hero, or in this case an action reporter, on the screen.
Charles Bronson plays a Denver Tribune crime reporter named Garret
Smith who is investigating the circumstances of a massacre in the
isolated Mormon community between two feuding brothers, both of whom
deny responsibility, though blame the other. Turns out a third party is
trying to cause a rift between them, so that their valuable property
can be seized. Smith then becomes determined to find out who, even at
risk to his own life.
Surprisingly different role for Charles Bronson(he does not play the title character!) and he is quite good in it too, clearly enjoying doing something different. It's too bad that the film, while interesting, peters out into such an obvious conspiracy thriller, since it could have instead took a thoughtful look at the Mormon community, rather than having it in the background. Still, one of the better Bronson films from the end of his career.
|Page 1 of 3:||  |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Parents Guide||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|