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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look57.14%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 7.14%
Total Crap: 14.29%

1 review, 8 user ratings

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by Jack Sommersby

"An Enjoyable Burt Reynolds Star Vehicle"
4 stars

Inferior to "Sharky's Machine" but better than a lot of Reynolds' films since then, it'll keep you content that you didn't waste a couple of bucks on the video rental.

A rarely-better Burt Reynolds stars as Richard Malone (at least, that's the name he's currently using), a recently-retired CIA agent aimlessly driving his prized '69 Mustang cross country in search of tranquility (his former specialty was assassinations for Uncle Sam, until his trigger finger and conscience got the better of him). When his car breaks down in a small rural Oregon town he's befriended by a mechanic and the man's sixteen-year-old daughter, who are being pressured by land-grabbing, white-supremacist megalomaniac Charles Delaney (Cliff Robertson) to sell off their property; over half the town's been bought up, and those that refuse to sell are meeting some unfortunate fatal "accidents" at the hands of Delaney's henchmen. Malone is reluctant to help at first but soon finds himself in true Shane fashion strapping on some firepower and doing battle for the town's citizens who're too terrified to fight for themselves. Suffice to say, Malone is far from original and is derivative to no end, but it's also entertaining and blessed with some genuinely affecting moments, with Reynolds' outstanding star performance the chief reason. The cynical, world-weary Malone is an initially fascinating character, and Reynolds underplays him masterfully, receding into the man yet still vivifying him enough to demand our attention. He's great at delivering his tough-guy dialogue with aplomb and at injecting some touching regret into his quieter line readings, like when the daughter tells Malone she wishes he wasn't going, and he replies, "I wish a lot of things." (He also gets to throw out a humorous quip when the daughter remarks that his car's older than her: "I've got socks older than you.") There's also a wonderful scene where Malone faces down a drunken, gun-toting man with just a newspaper and a single finger combating the man's harsh intentions, and another one where Delaney tries to buy Malone over to his side, and Malone can barely contain his amusement over just how far off the deep end this man truly is. The film's final third turns ludicrous, however, and loses the kind of fine B-movie control that director Harley Cokliss pulled off a bit better in Black Moon Rising, with Tommy Lee Jones. Further, Lauren Hutton tries too hard as Malone's ex-partner, and the final confrontation on Delaney's farm is stiffly paced and executed, as if Cokliss just didn't have his filmmaking heart in it. Top marks, though, to David Newman's evocative scoring and Gerald Hirschfeld's crisp lighting. And top marks, too, of course, to Burt Reynolds, who could have coasted through the proceedings but acts with conviction and appeal and manages to make this predictable film a notch or two better than it deserves. Good for him -- and the fortunate audience, as well.

Seeing Cliff Robertson phone his performance in here really is the equivalent of watching paint dry.

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originally posted: 06/13/06 08:53:47
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User Comments

8/30/18 Anne good to see 4 stars
8/30/16 gerry average 3 stars
3/25/13 action movie fan some good action but too slow moving to be effective 2 stars
8/20/07 mr.mike by-the numbers actioner and a paycheck for Burt 3 stars
8/31/06 jpclarke good action movie though bit dated now 5 stars
2/16/05 Sugarfoot It's like watching a blank tv screen... 1 stars
2/05/03 Jack Sommersby Reynolds is excellent in this colorful (but dumb) actioner. 4 stars
2/03/03 Charles Tatum The '80's were not kind to Burt 1 stars
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  01-May-1987 (R)



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