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When this movie was released back in 89', unfortunately, it had anything but
a bang, however thankfully it has become one of the very first titles Warner
Bros. have made the transfer to DVD. Don Johnson gives the performance of a
lifetime (why he didnt receive any major recognition is beyond me)....in
fact, the entire cast/crew does a great job in bringing to life the story of
real-life LA officer Jerry Beck. The late John Frankenheimer shows a touch
of class here turning this into much more than a run of the mill crime
drama, his vision is real and hard hitting, the audience is captivated with
the story and is not able to keep its eyes off the screen. Though I must
mention again, its the actors which play a large part in breathing life into
this. Don Johnson is magnificent, (one scene in particular, without giving
away much, has him on a telephone conversation where his mood swing is
frighteningly effective.....) while I've never seen William Forsythe play
such a character, considering the common "hardball man" he is given in other
features......without going into too much, everyone here is excellent. You
are making a big mistake if you miss this one.
Another one of those TV stars who moved into movies this sadly has been
put alongside with Caruso's JADE but on closer inspection all movies
are not that bad..... Dead Bang is a fairly run of the mill cop against
bad guys type thing but what takes it out of the run of the mill is the
direction from Frankenheimer & the star turn from Johnson. Johnson
gives a great performance as the stressed cop,we can see the
frustration in Beck's life either doing his job or trying to see his
kids,his acting is done very well & not over the top..in particular the
xmas morning bust Beck makes..the start of the scene we see the
alcoholic sweats to later on being sick all over the suspect. The
supporting cast however do not raise their game to give the support
Johnson needs with William Forsythe in particular giving a completely
wooden performance which is surprizing as he has been so much better.
The action scenes are handled very well indeed...The gunfights(are they're are a few) are not to Hollywood for my liking.
On the whole a very enjoyable movie & it shows that Don Johnson should have been a movie star.
14. DEAD BANG (action, 1989) Det. Beck (Don Johnson) is an LA cop whose
life is falling to pieces. His wife has just left and his hitting the
bottle again. Assigned to a cop killing that seems routine, Beck sees
his chance at redemption by immersing himself in the case. The murder
has ties to a ruthless and tightly controlled Neo-Nazi sect. He starts
a cross-country chase that inevitably leads him to rural America. With
the help of an FBI agent, Beck is intent on exposing a network of
Critique: "An exercise in futility", that's how one critic summed up Don Johnson's acting. With a squeaky voice, boyish looks, and sparse acting (plus an endless array of 'cool' wardrobes), he became something of a cult favorite playing Det. Stubbs in the hit TV-show Miami Vice (1984-89). Since the end of that show, his movie career has been a total loss. . .well, almost.
At least he can look back proudly on his work in John Frankenheimer's 'Dead Bang': A slick, old style, slam-bang action film. Taking his Stubbs character to new heights (or lows for that matter) he plays the consummate 'burn-out cop'. He has been given a solid script to work from, professional direction by old-hand Frankenheimer, and a good supporting cast including John Forsythe as his FBI partner.
Supposedly based on the real life experiences of LA Det. Jerry Beck, this is Johnson's only film where he proved to be more than "an exercise in futility".
QUOTE: "I got a splitting' headache, I'm seeing double and. . .s#!t! I think I'm gonna throw up again."
This movie plays like a typical good detective novel. Except for the hero every character is totally one dimensional and the well written story doesn't really deliver any big surprises. This being said, this film delivers decent acting, a compelling plot, and polished Hollywood production value. Frankenheimer definitely knows his way around the genre and he gets the most of Don Johnson's much-maligned acting chops by casting him in a role which perfectly suits Johnson's trademark 'maverick' cop character.
I shied away from this film initially, due to its low IMDB rating at the
time, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's based on actual events,
the story has all the right elements of a great action film. Don Johnson's
LA cop is up against tremendous odds, a renegade, a drunk, lonely, and yet
an entirely likeable character. Whether you like Johnson (the actor), or
Frankenheimer (the director), or action films (the genre) in general, give
this film a chance. It's almost perfect. Completely underrated by the
scoring on this site.
7.5 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Don Johnson plays real life police detective Jerry Beck who's hot a the
trail of a white supremacist group that's leaving behind them a bloody
This a fast paced, gritty and exciting police thriller that's criminally underrated. It may be a bit clichéd at times, but Frankenheimer keeps things moving along nicely.
Don Johnson is excellent as Beck, also a very underrated actor in my opinion. His tough guy attitude is never taken to extreme and his confrontations with straight arrow FBI agent Forsyth are well played out. Supporting cast does well also. It's well written, with some genuine laughs along the way (the Woody Allen bit is hilarious and the vomit scene also) and has enough action sequences to keep it from ever slowing down too much.
Fans of action-suspense thrillers should definitely check this one out.
John Frankenheimer really outdid himself when he directed this film. What an accomplishment from the director of Birdman Of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days In May, The Train and Black Sunday. Imagine a scene showing the films hero throwing up all over someone! What innovative filmaking. Seriously this is a typical cop thriller. Without the foul words it could have been an episode of Miami Vice. Don Johnson plays an alcoholic, down on his luck, loose cannon on the deck cop chasing white supremists through the Southwest. Johnson is an intense hero even if he isn't likeable in some ways. Theres a wonderful scene where he throws a fit after talking to his ex-wife. Theres a good foot chase involving several car accidents as well. My favorite part though is the one where he threatens the police shrink he compares to Woody Allen. I can understand why they never made Dead Bang 2 but this film is still worth your time if you like cop thrillers.
Being a Don Johnson fan, I liked this film. It's also got a good director(John Frankenheimer). Johnson's a Dirty Harry-type cop this time with all the stereotypical trimmings of the role i.e. divorced, drinks, never sees his kids, no personal life etc. This movie's got action, it's witty, funny, satirical, and it's fact-based but it's not Serpico. William Forsythe is particularly laughable as an FBI straight-man.
I saw this in the theater and the only thing I remembered about it was Don Johnson puking on a guy. So with all the talk of Frankenheimer on the other board, I decided to revisit it and was more than happy I did. Don Johnson stars as Jerry Beck (apparently based on a real LAPD cop) who begins to investigate the murder of a fellow officer. The investigation ends up taking him all over the US on the trail of white supremacists. The film is pretty gritty and realistic but suffers from a terrible Hollywood "We blinded you with convenience" ending. That aside, there is much to like here from Johnson's anti-Crockett cop to great supporting turns by William Forsythe and Bob Balaban to the witty script. And, of course, the aforementioned puke scene. Not as good (or as sleazy) as my 52 PICK UP, my favorite 80s Frankenheimer vehicle, but still worth checking out.
As underrated actors go, Don Johnson must surely rank pretty high.
However in saying that, if you peruse through his back catalogue of
movies you will certainly find many a gem that has made the man what he
For sheer emotion and heart rendering, just take a look at 'Ceasefire' and 'Paradise' for a romantic comedy look beyond the remake of 'Born Yesterday' and head straight to 'Sweethearts Dance' and without a doubt if you are looking for a thriller with a hard edge look no further than 'Dead Bang' Whilst watching it bear in mind 'Miami Vice' and consider the character of Jerry Beck to be the darker side of Sonny Crockett.
Looking like ten miles of rough road, Don Johnson essays the role of a world weary downtrodden Jerry Beck to the max. This is a man carrying the world on his shoulders, his private life has gone down the toilet and his job specification doesn't look any better.
As the movie begins, a black shopkeeper is gunned down, money from the cash register is taken and the killer movies on, the crime is reported, the criminal is approached by a passing patrol car, suspicions arise, the policeman is also gunned down.
Enter Detective Jerry Beck, into a terrain waiting to explode into a world of hurt and anger, a world covered in darkness run by a gang of white supremacists.
An absolute classic from start to finish, littered with some seriously good dialogue and acting. The two best scenes from the whole movie, consist of the infamous chase sequence between Beck and and a possible suspect, when Beck catches up with the runaway and then proceeds to throw up on him.....what absolute joy.
The other scene in question has to be the one where Beck's hierarchy decide to question his mental capabilities, so they decide to send him to see the local Psychiatrist, when Beck starts to laugh and lets it be known that he thinks the man looks like Woody Allen, what happens thereafter in the scene, just has to be witnessed.
Action Packed to the max, 'Dead Bang is Dead On! without hesitation this movie gets 10 out of 10
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