Famous (and fraudulent) psychic Elliot Blake uses his old mentalist skills to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of a psychic research institute and hopefully, the US Government. What seems at first like a threat, a test devised by a well-known magician and debunker of psychics, turns out to be his chance for revenge against his former mentor. What he can't foresee is a police lieutenant who knows all the tricks. Written by
Mark Cabot Robinson
11 years after the last Columbo movie "Columbo: The Conspirators", Peter Falk returns as the scruffy looking famous Los Angeles police lieutenant. He could had made a far worse comeback, for "Columbo: Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" is simply a solid and well made Columbo movie entry.
For this project they safely picked director Leo Penn, who had already directed the solid Columbo movie "Columbo: Any Old Port in a Storm", 16 years earlier. He provides the movie with a steady and pleasant pace, using lots of cuts and dynamic camera-work. I have to say this is really one of the more stylish looking Columbo movies, as if they had more money to spend this time and more time to put in details and make things look more perfect. It probably was also true, since they of course had to ensure that Columbo would be picked up again by the viewers and it all had to be as good and successful again as the 'old' Columbo movies.
Even though it takes a long while for the murder to occur (it occurs after 24 minutes into the movie) and therefore also takes a long while for Lt. Columbo to make his grand entrance, it still is a movie that will keep you interested throughout, due to its nice written and compelling story, even though it sort of 'borrows' at times from the previous Columbo movie "Columbo: Now You See Him ", from 1976.
Anthony Andrews is perfectly cast and he really suits his role well as the movie its murderer. One thing that is very typical for the 'newer', post-'70's Columbo movies is that they mostly feature unknown actors as the movie its 'villains' opposite Lt. Columbo, unlike the 'older' Columbo movies, which always featured some big stars from movie, TV and even from the musical world in it, as the movie its killer. This new approach for the later Columbo movies, with casting mostly unknown actors in the important roles, doesn't always work out as well as it does in this movie though.
Unfortunalty the movie sleeps in a bit in the movie its second halve. Some of the sequences go on for too long and could had made their point much earlier. Seems to me they just HAD to fill around 90 minutes. A bit of a shame, since if this movie entirely would had been more like it's first halve, this movie could had really been among the best Columbo movies out of the long running successful series. The movie tends to get better toward the ending again but its ruined by a more slightly weak ending.
Overall a nice comeback from the good old lieutenant and on par with most other quality Columbo movies.
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