Shoot to Kill (1988) Poster


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The way that action movies should be made.
Jonathon Dabell10 June 2004
Shoot To Kill (GB title: Deadly Pursuit) is a lively, fairly intelligent action film which benefits from good character development. Many post-1980 action films suffer because they are empty spectacles, full of boring stock characters and visually impressive/emotionally redundant stunts. However, this one is different. There are eight main characters (all of them well-realized) as well as a fundamentally exciting plot, sharp dialogue, and a spectacular mountain setting.

FBI agent Warren Stanton (Sidney Poitier) is desperate to track down a dangerous jewel thief following a botched hostage situation. He suspects that the thief has joined a five-man hiking party in the rugged wilderness near Spokane. Unfortunately, there is no way of contacting the hiking guide Sarah (Kirstie Alley) to warn her that a dangerous killer is among her group. Instead, Stanton has to put his trust in another mountain guide, rough and tough Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger). The unlikely pair pursue the hiking group, hoping to reach them before the killer strikes again.

The film moves at a good pace. Interest is generated on several different fronts: the volatile relationship between Stanton and Knox; the intriguing guessing-game as to which member of the hiking party is actually the jewel thief/killer; the "race-against-time" tension (as soon as the hikers have entered Canada, the killer could dispose of them at any time). There is spectacular action, but it is not emphasised to such an overwhelming degree that other story threads are lost. Shoot To Kill is a very commendable action film and it is a pity that more films in the genre are not up to the same standard.
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Excellent action-adventure flick
Bjorn (ODDBear)6 September 2006
Sidney Poitier's return to movies (after a 10 year absence) was this wilderness action flick which is fun all the way.

FBI Agent Warren Stantin (Poitier) trails a nasty serial killer to the wilderness and enlists the aid of an experienced mountain guide Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger). The killer has "hitched" a ride with 4 other campers who are being led through the mountains by Knox's girlfriend (Kirstie Alley).

Well written script, first rate action sequences and solid acting by Berenger and Poitier make Shoot to Kill an excellent action-adventure yarn that's sure to please most. The opening 50 minutes or so are airtight and then it loses a bit of steam but on the whole it's damn good overall.
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A triumph!
bobjohndave29 July 2002
I would just like to start off this review by giving Sidney Poitier the recognition he deserves. He is most definitely one of the most distinguished and talented actors of our generation and a role model for all aspiring actors! Now, on with the review. I first saw this movie during a vacation to the beach with my friend and his family. I had seen several other Poitier efforts such as "In the Heat of the Night" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?",and I stumbled upon this thriller while watching television on one of the nights that it rained. I stopped at TBS and I'm certainly glad that I did! This movie is one of best Poitier movies I've ever viewed! This film incorporates comedy into a genre the usually takes itself a little too seriously. The movie has an overall seriousness about it, but there are a few cheeky moments between Poitier and Berenger. Some of these comedic moments include: a scene where Berenger and Poitier are in an ice tunnel during a snow storm. Berenger is laying on top of Poitier to keep him from freezing to death. Poitier asks something like : "What are you queer or something?!" and Berenger says something like: "What's the matter? Haven't you ever heard about us mountain boys?" Another funny moment comes when Poitier is trying to scale a wall even though he is exhausted. Berenger is at the top trying to convince him to go back. The look on Poitier's face is more than enough to inspire a chuckle. The performances, the direction, and the cinematography are all well done in this film. The beautiful mountain landscapes inspire sort of a wistful feeling that can often be distracting. I'll also give a thumbs up to the sound effects department of this film. The sound of the rope snapping when Berenger was plummeting from the cable extending across the gorge was enough to make me wince with agony. This movie was executed well and my only complaint was that the villain's identity was revealed earlier than I thought it should have been. All in all I think it was a solid effort that I think anyone who is a fan of suspense films will enjoy. Your best bet as far as renting this movie is to go to a hole-in-the-wall movie rental store that never throws any movie away because, as other reviews have said, it is very hard to find. You may get lucky once in a blue moon and catch it on TBS or TNT, but the edited for TV versions are never as good as the uncut versions. If none of the mom and pop movie rental outlets still carry it, go to blockbuster and demand that they order this movie for you! This movie is a definite must-see for any fan of the suspense genre! FINAL SCORE 9/10
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Perfect Poitier and Believable Berenger
The_Rook17 October 2002
Sidney Poitier, who was 61 at the time, and Tom Berenger both do exceptional jobs in this movie. Poitier as an FBI agent and Berenger is a mountain guide. Great scenery in Washington state includes Pugent Sound. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen let alone quite possibly the best in this genre. A good blend of action with the chase of the killer from city to mountains to city along with mental clue teasers. If you like movies like "Along Came a Spider", "Manhunter", or "U.S. Marshals" you will enjoy this movie. Well paced with good supporting cast, sets, and music. The killer is not revealed until late in the movie so the suspense is excellent through out it. I hope this comes out on DVD soon.
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A Lot To Like.....Except The Ending
ccthemovieman-116 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It wasn't until my fourth viewing of this film (and first on widescreen DVD) that (1) I finally remembered who the killer was as soon as I saw him and (2) lost a little regard for this otherwise very entertaining thriller because of the implausible ending.

It's a different kind of adventure story/crime thriller in that the beginning and ending scenes are both in big cities and the long middle part is in the Northwest wilderness. There is some great mountain scenery to enjoy as we tag along with two groups: one which has the killer and his hostage (a slim Kirstie Alley!) and another with an FBI man (Sidney Poitier) and his guide (Tom Berenger), who is the hostage's boyfriend.

I had no problems with any of this story until the last 20 minutes when both parties reached Vancouver. Then, all credibility went out the window as Berenger is allowed to be side-by-side with Poitier as the latter and the killer shoot it out in various parts of the city. It gets worse as it goes on with Poitier a dead duck a couple of times but he never dies. Only Superman could have survived what he did, but he's the "good guy " so he makes it in the end. A little restraint in that ending would have kept this movie just great.

Still, if you can put up with the ending the film still offers a lot of suspense, a lot of mystery, interesting action and other words, a lot to like.
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The first 45min sets it up nicely
royu27 June 2004
It think whoever wrote the script for this movie had the first half all planned out, but then didn't know where to go afterwards. The first 40 minutes or so is riveting, one of the greatest openings to a film you'll ever likely to see because it keeps you guessing, there's decoys thrown in and it throws up one big question, which one of the fishermen is the bad guy? I guessed wrong. Once his identity is revealed it all becomes a bit stock standard, other users have said that the bad guy question was answered too soon and i tend too agree, another 20 minutes or so would've helped, the fishermen tour is a fun part of the movie.

Despite it's slight decline in power at this point the directing and cinematography remain first class. The characters are believable, realistic, give good feedback and are easy to relate to. Character development in Shoot to Kill isn't matched by many others, simply first class. The script is laugh out loud witty at times and Poitier and Berenger gel well, but the acting does have it's poorer moments, as does the script. A couple of plot holes don't help. But look past some minor flaws and the movie is great, the curiously catchy soundtrack adds to the movies feel, and the scenery is documentary spectacular and also gives a good sense of it's intimidation. Definitely a must watch for thriller fans. Everyone I've shown it too loved it, and everyone I know who's seen it loved it. Highly underrated, yet highly enjoyable.
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The trek in the mountains
jotix10025 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
After a diamond dealer's home is attacked by a man who wants the precious stones, the robber takes the dealer's wife hostage in a violent confrontation with the police and FBI in San Francisco. The agent in charge, Warren Stantin, gives the diamonds to the, almost invisible, man, who flees by boat taking the loot with him. The only way to beat the FBI and the people that are following him is to head north to Canada.

Thus begins this action thriller that uses the Canadian Rockies as the backdrop for setting this story about a determined FBI enforcer following a deadly assassin who has left a trail of killings as he goes into the mountains. Stantin is told the only way to find his man is by engaging Jonathan Knox, a man who knows the area, to guide him. Knox, who is reluctant, at first, realizes the man might be part of a group his girlfriend, Sarah, is taking on an extended trek of the mountains.

Stantin and Knox begin to fight as they have different ideas about what to do, but they end up bonding, as they understand what is at stake. This pair endures some of the worst weather conditions in their quest for the assassin, and in finding the diamonds that the outlaw wants to sell to an unscrupulous man in Vancouver.

Roger Spottiswoode directed this action filled movie with sure hand. The screen play is by Harv Zimmel and Daniel Petrie, two men who know how to involve the viewer. Michael Chapman photographed the great outdoors with an eye on the dangerous aspects of the chase.

Sidney Poitier is seen as Warren Stantin, an FBI agent that is restless in his pursue of the killer. This was Mr. Poitier's return to the movies after quite a number of years not being in front of a camera. Tom Berenger plays Knox, an outdoors man who is more at home in the mountains than among people.

The surprise of the story is that we don't have a clue up to the middle of the film about who the real killer is. By positioning him among the group that Sarah is taking on a mountain expedition, adds a great deal of suspense to the story. The ending leaves a lot to be desired, but that's only a minor complaint about this action packed film.
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Some Inconvenient Allies
bkoganbing14 January 2008
After an eleven year absence from the screen, Sidney Poitier chose to return in an action/adventure film where he plays an FBI agent in search of a killer.

He's got good reason to want this guy bad. His quarry is ruthless and kills without mercy. Poitier loses a hostage and the ransom he's asked for. But some good detective work has traced the man to a remote part of the Pacific Northwest.

Where the perpetrator has killed again and joined a party of dry fly fishermen being guided by Kirstie Alley into the rugged mountains. No place for a city kid like Poitier, says mountaineer/hermit Tom Berenger who has the prerequisite skills to get the job done. These two are forced into an alliance of inconvenience.

The best thing I liked about Shoot To Kill is the guessing game we play for the identity of the perpetrator. Any one of the five men in Kirstie Alley's party could have been the killer. Look at the cast list and you'll recognize a few names who've played some pretty loathsome villains in the past. The identity is revealed suddenly and quite shockingly.

What I didn't like with Shoot To Kill is the fact that the final confrontation with the perpetrator is in big city Vancouver where he's escaped with Alley. He needed her in the woods, not any longer, she should have wound up dead. And Berenger and Poitier should have confronted him in the woods.

That script decision made the climax a rather ordinary one that you see in a whole lot of police chase films. Still all the players do fine here, my favorite being Kirstie Alley as the woods smart guide.
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" You may be a real hot shot in the city, but out here, I'm in charge "
thinker169128 June 2010
Police in every nation have, over the decades accumulated hundreds of stories concerning the chasing of criminals. Sometimes in the city, sometimes in the country and then there are times when the bad guys try to jump jurisdiction by crossing the boarder. This is one such movie called " Shoot to Kill. " The story is of Steve (Clancy Brown) a very intelligent, very crafty diabolic killer who begins with a B & E, armed assault, robbery, kidnapping and graduates to outright Murder. To combat him the F.B.I. assigns a senior and experienced agent named Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier). The two meet with a robbery, murder where Steve takes his loot and kills his victim and makes good his escape. Stantin vows he will eventually apprehend him. A short time later, Steve emerges by infiltrating a troop of hikers into the U.S. Canadian mountains, where Steve is once again pursued by Stantin who is helped by Jonathan Knox, (Tom Berenger) a stubborned, but very experienced mountain guide who is determined to save his girlfriend (Kirstie Alley) from the clutches of the killer. In it's cast are several well known actors who have also played heavies, like Richard Masur and Andrew Robinson and make it difficult to identify the real killer. The movie is filled with action, adventure and some light moments between the principals. All in all, it's a good film and one is thankful for allowing Mr. Poitier to return to center stage before the camera. ****
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Very good eighties cop thriller
The_Void29 June 2007
Deadly Pursuit certainly has it's fair share of problems, but as an entertaining little action thriller; it stands up well to criticism, as while some of the dialogue, situations and character drawings don't exactly ring true; the film moves quickly and director Roger Spottiswoode does a good job of ensuring that the film is easy viewing and never becomes boring. Deadly Pursuit is something of a film of two halves; it starts off as a gritty cop thriller, and then mutates into a survivalist themed chase movie. The plot is fairly standard at first, as we witness a man being caught robbing a diamond store. The plot thickens when, after some interrogation from the arresting officers, it turns out that the thief actually owns the store! We then learn that he's stealing the diamonds to pay a kidnapper for the release of his wife. FBI agent Warren Stantin manages to chase the kidnapper down, but he gets away with the diamonds and flees into a forest near Canada; thus meaning that Agent Stantin must chase the killer into the woods, with the help of a rugged local who knows the area.

The film does have a number of problems - sometimes, for example, it seems to just jump from one scene to the next without much in the way of a connection. This does keep things moving, but the film can feel a bit disjointed because of it. Still, the plot flows fairly well and enough different angles are created to keep things interesting. The film features a decent cast, headed up by Sidney Poitier. Poitier's character changes a lot through the film, and while the actor sometimes looks a bit silly, he does seem to manage this well. He is joined by Tom Berenger, who also gives a decent performance in his role, while the rest of the cast is filled out by the likes of Clancy Brown, Kirstie Alley and Andrew Robinson. Perhaps the best thing about this movie is the fact that we don't know who the killer is for so long, which builds suspense - and mystery, and the film also carries off a nice twist little twist with the choice of actors surrounding the killer. Overall, I can't really say that Deadly Pursuit is one of the best films of its type - but it's certainly a very good thriller and I recommend watching it!
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Better than you might think
Captain Ed27 June 2000
A rare action movie that manages to rise above its formula, Shoot to Kill delivers mystery, exciting action, and beautiful cinematography.

Tom Berenger has done many action/thriller movies, but Sidney Poitier steps out for a change of pace in this movie. Its formula is "double-fish-out-of-water buddy picture", and it stays pretty close to the formula throughout the movie. Poitier plays an FBI agent who blew an arrest and wound up with a dead civilian, and has tracked the (unseen) thief/killer into the Pacific Northwest. Berenger plays a tracker, whose girlfriend runs a trail guide business. The girlfriend (Kirstie Alley in an outdoor role!) has taken her latest group of travelers out into the woods, and Poitier believes that the killer is among them. If that's not bad enough, a deadly storm looks like it's coming on.

The real fun in this movie is in the first half, where you see all of the men in Kirstie Alley's group. All of them are recognizable character actors, and most of them have played villains in other movies before. So which one of them is the killer? I guessed wrong the first time.

Unfortunately, this gets revealed about halfway through, and the movie returns to the formula. However, the excellent performances and lush cinematography elevate it beyond the norm. I thought Poitier did a great job as the city-based FBI agent, and Alley was surprisingly good as the trail guide.

It's too bad this movie is so hard to find. It's definitely worth a watch -- or two!
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An Amazing Adventure in the Wilderness! Totally Underrated!
TheEightiesAreBack24 May 2003
Its too bad they don't make this movie has three great actors (Tom Berenger,Kirstie Alley, and Sidney Potier)..whats better than an FBI agent and an expert mountain man trying to hunt down an expert killer/theif in the mountains/ they try to survive various obsticles of nature...
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A must-see.
Abyss4725 May 2013
One of the great 80's action/adventure epics; a pleasant surprise I never expected to be so well put together because the only other films by the director I had seen were "The 6th Day" and "Tomorrow Never Dies", which were nothing to write home about. Poitier and Berenger play well of one another, and Poitier in particular has rarely ever been funnier from what I can recall. This was his big comeback after not appearing in a film since "A Piece of the Action", which came out all the way back in '77. Thankfully, he chose the right material to come back with and make him relevant again. This is a skillfully crafted and carefully paced thriller with plenty of suspense to keep you on your toes, especially in the first half hour or so, which plays like a much darker version of Poitier's Sergeant Tibbs flicks. The way it starts off almost brutally dark and transitions into a sort of buddy comedy works better than one might expect. The action was well shot, the photography was solid, and overall, I'd say any big action fan, old or young, owes it to themselves to check out this gem. I know I had a total blast with it.
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Signature Killer
The_Rook7 July 2003
As pointed out in a great review above, Poitier is underrated. He is in fact a great actor. He was underappreciated in "A Good Day to Die" as well as others. This movie is exceptional. It keeps you guessing halfway into the movie as to the identity of the murderer. I agree with the other reviewer that it would have been better had they kept it secret a little longer, but we both agree that it doesn't deter from the great film that it turned out to be. The acting, director, music, sets, special effects, stunts, and everything else is exceptional. It surprises me why such a great movie done in the beautiful Seattle area turned out to be a Sleeper. The shots in the mountains and around Pugent Sound are great. This is one of my all time favorite action/mysteries. If you like Sidney Poitier and/or Tom Berenger you will love it. If you love movies like "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls" or any of the Hitchcock movies you should love it as well.
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Outstanding acting, directing, scenery, story line...
k9dwight18 December 2003
Have watched this movie at least 10 times in VHS, and never get tired of it. Sydney, Tom, and Kristie are all great. The scenery in the mountains and crossing the gorge is spectacular. Can't wait until it is out in DVD and can play on my 61" TV, with the volume cranked up on my Bose Surround Speaker system...
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Interesting and exciting film.
bonjovifreak198820 July 2004
I enjoyed this film a lot and I thought the acting was superb. Poitier, Berenger and Alley all did them self proud. The film begins with Poitier(a Cop)goes to investigate a robbery which turns out to be a man desperately trying to save his wife from a man who is holding her hostage in their house. Poitier intervenes and the wife ends up dead with a bullet through her eye. Shortly afterwards the killer joins a tour group hiking through a mountain range. Kirstie Alley is the group Leader. The identification of the killer is kept secret until he murders the other members of the group and takes Kirstie Alley hostage. While that is taking place Poitier joins Berenger Alley's partner and a grumpy, sarcastic excuse of a person and they try to track down the killer and save Alley. The film concludes a city with the killer still on the loose with a terrified Alley and Berenger and Poitier closing in.......... Watch it if you like a good thriller.
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decent but unbelievable
jeff-903 May 2004
nice scenery, good performances, but the total lack of logic makes it average at best. Forgetting all the procedural annoyances like the FBI sending one guy to go hiking after a mass murderer instead of the standard army of helicopters, planes, dogs, whatever I have one major pet peeve.

Mr Mountain Man Berenger goes trekking off into snow country wearing jeans ! LOL. After they made a big deal about outfitting the FBI guy properly. Wading into a river, being able to dig a huge snow cave in the middle of a storm with no shovels, climbing a big rock formation in heavy hiking boots (what happened to the backpacks in that scene anyway).

And Kirstie Allie and her big butt as a hiking guide ?!? I've seen those women, they are lean mean walking machines.

Oh, and another thing - after an hour plus of them hiking, which took days supposedly, they come out on a highway !!! Like they couldn't have just waited for them.

The whole thing was just silly. 5/10.
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Solid action-thriller starring Sidney....PWAAAT-EE-AY!
tenthousandtattoos11 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First, if you haven't seen it, and are planning to, DON'T look at the back of the Region 1 DVD cover! It gives something away that is supposed to be a mystery until about 40 minutes into the movie! This movie is cool in that it's one of those suspense thrillers that limits the number of protagonists and does away with all but superficial sub-plots in favour of fast-paced, exciting chase sequences. As one reviewer said, it "grabs and doesn't let go".

We begin in the city. Sidney Poitier plays Warren Stanton, an FBI, or "G" man, called in by the local cops to investigate a suspicious diamond theft - the owner of the store apparently "stole" his OWN diamonds. It only takes a stern gaze from Stanton for the store owner's resolve to break, and he spills the beans: a man has kidnapped his wife, and is holding her to ransom while the owner goes and gets the diamonds.

Stanton intervenes, and tries in vain to negotiate the woman's release with disastrous consequences, and the man makes his escape. We know immediately this guy is dangerous, that's evident from the way he executes the maid, but what we soon learn is that he is extremely smart as well. Except for one huge mistake, which ultimately cost him his life even though he makes said mistake about 20 minutes into the movie...but anyway...nitpicking! I'll talk about the mistake in a sec.

The man escapes into the Pacific Northwest wilderness, hooking up with a troop of holiday fisherman being led through the rockies by a guide, Sarah (Kirstie Alley). Cut off from outside communication, there is no way to warn Sarah or her fishermen that a dangerous killer walks among the group.

Stanton, in the meantime, enlists the aid of Sarah's boyfriend Johnathan Knox (Tom Berenger), a "rugged mountain man" type, to lead him into the wilderness in pursuit of Sarah, who (unknowingly at first) is harboring a psycho.

Interestingly, the Australian release title of this film, Deadly Pursuit, was more fitting i thought. Now, the mistake: the killer has escaped, basically...he's in the woods, he's killed a fisherman for his clothes, he is gonna join the fishing guys and Sarah and basically hijack the adventure holiday to get himself over the border into Canada. Now, why on Earth would he shoot the fisherman in the left eye (being the EXACT SAME way he executed the diamond-guy's wife) thus tipping the authorities to the fact that it's the same guy responsible. For the smart guy he's made out to be, it seems a bit far-fetched that he would leave such an obvious signature. Maybe a bit of lazy writing which I can kind of forgive, given that the rest of the film is so good. Or maybe I'm way off and it's just that this killer is a bit of an idiot and egotist who WANTED Stanton to know it was him. Either way, it's a great chase/adventure through the mountain wilderness, with some great photography and several key stunt sequences that really work. Stanton's fish-out-of-water stuff provides some comic relief, like the moose scene, and the "what the hell are these?" - "Battery powered, heated socks, the latest thing!" The music is also good, fitting to the action and the pace of the film. Kirstie Alley is good as the tough mountain chick, who is "pretty good at looking after" herself, and shows that she's not all talk once the kidnapper reveals himself to her. Tom Berenger plays another "tough guy" role here with enthusiasm. He's a rugged character, tough as nails and you feel his commitment to finding Sarah at all costs. You want him to get his hands on the kidnapper-guy, because you just know he'd kick the sh*t out of him in three seconds, gun or no gun! Anyway...that wouldn't be as exciting a movie I suppose! So a couple of things stretch believability...but they are minor unless you are really opposed to that kind of which case maybe don't hire action-thrillers? The only one that's a bit strange is having the 50-something Sidney Poitier take like 6 gunshot wounds to the torso (and I'm talking, like, a 9mm here, not a .22 or a pellet gun) and yet is still able to wrestle a 30-something, uninjured man over the side of a ferry and then proceed to hand-fight him underwater and finally kill him, all while holding your breath (you'd wanna hope one of those bullets didn't puncture a lung!) and once he's disposed of, get yourself back on board only to collapse just in time for some paramedics to put a stretcher under you...okay...but anyway, like I said, this is an ACTION-THRILLER...not a documentary or hard-hitting war drama, so I can forgive some minor plot discrepancies and liberties here and there, because, all in all, this is just a damn good film! It's worth mentioning that the script is co-written by Daniel Petrie Jr - a great mind of the action genre.

It's great in that for the first 40 minutes or so, you as an audience member do not know who the killer is among the band of fisherman. Once you do know, it's like the gloves come off and this film kicks into high gear for the final thrilling chase sequence as the killer makes his desperate dash for the border, Stanton and Knox only a step behind... In having a tricky reveal like that, you kind of limit your audience as far as replay value is concerned, so I can sort of understand why this movie is kind of forgotten today. Once you know the twist why bother watching it again? I say for the performances, the setting, the adventure...I've seen this movie probably 20 times growing up and again just last night, and I can still say I enjoy it immensely.
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Great little discussed thriller.
Paul Andrews17 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Shoot to Kill starts late one night in San Francisco as diamond merchant Mr. Berger (Milton Selzer) sets the alarm off in his jewellery shop & the police show up, still in his pyjama's with a couple of pounds of diamonds it's clear that he's being forced to act against his will & when questioned by special FBI agent Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier) he admits that an armed man has his wife as a hostage. The local police & Stantin try to negotiate the release of Mrs. Berger (Janet Rotblatt) but the plan only ends up getting her killed & the killer escaping with the diamonds. The next day & the killer is trying to cross the border into Canada through a small town called Bishop Falls but is spooked when he sees a large police presence & decides to kill a member of a hiking group & take his place so he can cross the border on foot. Meanwhile Stantin learns of the man's death which was in the same unique manner Mrs. Berger was killed & sets off after his man through the tricky & rough mountainous terrain...

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode & known under the better title of Deadly Pursuit here in the UK I thought this was a great action thriller which doesn't often get mentioned. The script by Harv Zimmel, Michael Burton & Daniel Petrie Jr. takes itself pretty seriously although there are one or two light hearted moments surrounding agent Stantin's 'fish out of water' type situation even if the scene where he confronts a Grizzly Bear & scares it off by flapping his arms in the air is a little too silly. The film moves along at a nice pace & mixes the genres of thriller, action & whodunit very effectively. The character's are good & I liked the way that despite working together agent Stantin & his guide didn't suddenly become the best of friends & have long deep, meaningful conversations about their lives as in say Lethal Weapon (1987) because that's just so clichéd. In fact there isn't that much dialogue spoken in the film & poor Kirstie Alley barely says a word! Shoot to Kill starts off as a whodunit mystery but about half way through it reveals the killer & it changes in tone & becomes a taught thriller & I actually rather liked this abrupt & unexpected change in direction it took. A good solid throughly entertaining thriller with a decent cast that's worth a look but won't have much replay value as once you know the killer the films twist won't have any impact & the entire first half will lose it's effectiveness.

Director Spottiswoode does a good job here, the isolated forest locations are well used & the film has a nice tension to it especially during it's first half when we don't know who the killer is. There are some good action scenes including chases, a car chase, some shoot outs & people hanging over cliffs on rope although when John hits that cliff face the force & impact would have broken just about every bone in his body. The violence & body count are relatively low as is the profanity but that makes a nice chance.

Technically the film is fine with nice location shooting, it was shot largely in Canada with the opening sequence shot in San Fransico. It's well made & I would have imagined it had a decent budget coming from the Disney owned Touchstone Pictures. The acting is good & there's a pretty impressive cast here.

Shoot to Kill, I much prefer the title Deadly Pursuit, is a neat little action thriller with a good concept that's not predictable has unusual relationships between the character's & is well worth a watch.
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Pursue this adventure thriller Warning: Spoilers
In my opinion, Deadly Pursuit is quite a slick movie, but more an adventure and in part, thriller. It's one of those movies, which in it's start, immediately leaves you wondering what's going on, and what's to ensue, when a lone car comes speeding down a rain swept city street. A great night shot. I love those movies. When a very clever psychotic, (Clancy Brown, always reliable as a good performer) escapes hot shot FBI cop profiler, Poitier (marking a solid comeback) and his men after a negotiation, goes to s..t, he makes it his personal, mission to capture this madman, who have two aged hostages plus a maid and heir dog. The killer has taken off with these diamonds, so guilt stricken Poitier needs a guide, loner Berenger, the wilderness, his really own karmic environment. Berenger, not a real people person, who too could use a shower or too, is loathe at first to take Poitier, but really he has no choice. And with his survival skills in the great outdoors lacking here, our inept Poitier becomes the pain in Berenger's arse. Poitier's ineptness is what's funny too, some scenes, involving a horse. But too, Berenger's short fuse, adds more laughs, especially in one scene, involving a stubborn Poitier. Berenger's love (Kirsty Alley) Sarah, is leading a party of men on a hunting expedition, one man escaping the hell of a divorce, another one being the jewel stealing psycho. When too in a chinwag, Brown, keeps asking another of his fellow party, some questions, as if to maintain his guise of normalcy, where if this guy was among you, you wouldn't think for a second, he's weird or dangerous. But these stone cold psycho's are so good at pulling off their act of Mr good and wholesome, they themselves deserve an Oscar. Soon the other men of party are all killed, some of them falling into the river, one of them told by Brown, that he's a cop, before this poor explorer buys it. Now we have a cosey scene with just Brown and Sarah, which is really an inhospitable one. Sarah is a fighter and has an independence about her. She has balls too, as when offered one of the diamonds, she throws it in the river. The film is in the adventure, where Berenger and Poitier, tackle obstacles, one big one, trying to cross a ravine, from one cliff to another where it's means was tampered with, so our two have to do it the hard way using their own ropes and pegs. They encounter a bit of a hiccup, and Berenger goes flying hard against the face of a big rock, (I can still feel it and hear that slap) then manages to climb back up, which really got me exhausted as it did our actors. Another thrilling scene has them chased by a big grizzly, and you'll love how this situation is dealt with. I also loved it when the blizzard hit, that had me thinking, "Are these two scenes part of the same environment". They dig a burrow furiously, under the snow, amidst the wild blizzard. Poitier is so cold that Berenger has to warm him up. Another funny moment. The next day, a fist punches through the snow, where we have a warmish sun of relief. Then we near towards a climax with some things I couldn't buy. 1. Like how they just happened to track Alley and co down when coming onto a mountain road. And 2. Just outside the police station, how they happened to overhear a report that leads to a location, where Alley and her captor were. The climax was powerful, I must say, where it's great to see our Sidney back in action. But despite some flaws, Deadly Pursuit is a good 88' movie I've viewed many times, with beautiful outdoorsy locations, that almost makes you want to take up, being an explorer. But if part of a troupe, you certainly wouldn't want to be in one, killer Brown is part of.
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Tough thriller delivers the goods
Leofwine_draca6 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A slick and efficient wilderness thriller utilising a few great actors to strong effect, DEADLY PURSUIT is one of my favourite crime films of the 1980s. The story is simplicity in itself, a classic odd-couple pairing as inner-city FBI agent Sidney Poitier is forced to team up with a survivalist type to track down a ruthless murderer. This is the type of film that you don't really watch for the intricacies of the storyline, as it's kept very simple and straightforward, but to enjoy great outdoor photography, a sharp script and commanding performances.

Poitier returned from a decade-long break from acting for his role here, and he couldn't have picked a better part: he plays a commendable guy, extremely hard-bitten and intelligent and yet not without humour too – witness the very funny scenes involving a moose and a horse. Tom Berenger, in comparison, is taciturn and unfriendly and watching the two butt heads makes for a lot of fun.

As the villain of the piece, Clancy Brown gives a towering performance that builds on his breakout part as the Kurgan in HIGHLANDER. He's hulking and frightening, a vicious psychopath who leaves a trail of bodies in his wake and doesn't think twice about bumping off defenceless old women. It's truly an intimidating turn, delivered in classic Brown style, and adds to the film immeasurably. Kirstie Alley is thrown into the mix to equalise the gender balance a little and doesn't have a lot to work with, but to be fair the film isn't about her.

For a thriller, there are plenty of suspense scenes, some of them truly nail-biting – witness the set-piece involving the cable car. Okay, so the film does lose points slightly for moving away from the wilderness locations for the climax – it would have done a lot better by staying in the mountains – but such things are merely minor detractions and don't spoil the flow too much. This no-frills adventure/thriller hybrid is right on the money.
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Middle chunk makes it worthwhile
Sandcooler1 February 2012
"Shoot To Kill" is a movie that's just always walking tightrope above a swamp of grey mediocrity but never falls in. The plot is completely generic, but at least there's one interesting element to it: finding out the identity of the killer. It's not handled all that well, you don't exactly get to puzzle it together, but it does keep you interested for a while. The actors are mostly chosen from the boring half of the B-list (Kirstie Alley, Tom Berenger, sigh), but at least they had the decency to put them in the shadow of the great Sidney Poitier. Even the misplaced comedy scenes make sense when he's around, what a screen presence. The best part of this movie is inarguably the part that takes place in the woods, which is lucky because that's more than half of the movie. Why do they ever leave anyway, how do you make a movie with scenery this great end around a freakin' harbour? "Shoot To Kill" is flawed at best, but it did entertain me I guess.
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grandpagbm3 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The idea behind this film was a good one. Too bad it wasn't written well. Casting Sidney Poitier as the FBI agent was a good idea, and he did an outstanding job. Tom Berenger, on the other hand, only knows one emotion in most of his movies, anger. Kirstie Alley's character could have been a great one, and even showed some possibilities once, but the writer really let us down by making her role mostly a helpless female. This was completely inconsistent with the strongly independent character she was supposed to be. I don't care for Alley's acting anyway. The movie should have ended about fifteen minutes sooner than it did. The director milked the cow dry before the unbelievable final action. I will keep this in my collection only as an example of Poitier's performances.
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A smart and very solid thriller.
mhasheider3 December 2000
Warning: Spoilers
"Shoot to Kill" may appear to be another one of those films that relies mostly on the friendship of the two main characters in an action movie. "Lethal Weapon" and "The French Connection" make the two best examples. Unlike those two movies, "Shoot to Kill" presents the buddy system in a different way. SPOILER ALERT Sidney Poiter marks his return to acting in this film after nearly spending ten years directing. Poiter plays Warren Stantin, a veteran FBI agent from the San Fransisco area who holds only himself responsible for letting a clever jewel thief, Steve (Clancy Brown) already has killed two people, get away. Stantin knows very well that the thief has a small stash of diamonds with him and is trying to get into Canada through the mountains in the state of Washington.

Once Stantin arrives in Washington, he discovers that the thief/murderer has killed a fisherman and blends in as a member of small band of men that's being led through the wilderness.

The only person that can help Stantin catch the thief is Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger), a mountain guide who seems to knows how to adapt to the wild. Knox isn't willing to help Stantin, but he finds out right away that the other tour guide, Sarah (Kirstie Alley), his girlfriend is leading that party that the killer is in. Knox has no choice, but to help Stantin to find Steve in time before he gets into Canada.

That scene alone sets up the second half of the movie as Stantin and Knox make their way through the woods to find the party. Along the way, Knox finds the other members of the band lying on the edge of the river and sees that they're all dead. He is shocked and sees that Sarah is in absolute danger of being killed. In another scene, Knox and Stantin are moving up a mountain during a nasty winter storm. Stantin falls to the snow because he has a cramp in his leg. Immeadietaly, Knox comes back to help and furiously digs out snow to set up camp for the night. Even though they don't get along, they do form a strong bond and become friends. There's one scene where Knox and Stantin are being chased by an angry brown bear. Knox stumbles and falls on the side of a rock, cheek first while Stantin somehow, starts making weird noises to scare the bear away (which he does). How he does it had me laughing there for a minute or two.

Once Knox and Stantin have caught up with Sarah and Steve in Vancouver, there's a good foot chase scene followed by a solid car chase through the busy streets of Vancouver. It ends at the dock where two ferries are about to leave, most of the city cops who followed Stantin's endless pursuit of Steve, get on one while Knox and Stantin see Steve and Sarah on the other ferry.

The final duel that Stantin and Steve is interesting once they jump into the bay and Stantin shoots Steve, twice and kills him.

Poiter and Berenger give good performances in their roles. Alley and Brown also give very solid supporting performances. The cinematography by Michael Chapman is breath taking as is the tense and slick musical score composed by John Scott.

Overall, "Shoot to Kill" hits the target and is a smart and very solid thriller.
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Worth seeing
egriffith-227 May 2000
One of the most under-rated action thillers of the 1980's. A bit obscure so you may have trouble finding it in a rental store if you live in smaller community. I like the screenplay, and direction very much, though they are not without their flaws. I would say the best part of this movie is the ambiguity of the identity of the killer, and the red herrings given early on. Michael Chapman's cinematography is breathtaking as always. I also enjoyed John Scott's score as well. I recommend people should see it at least once.
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