I Saw A Film!

Roy Scheider gets to reprise his action clout in this stodgy blackmail turned revenge story in which a well off – I forget what his job was -, married to a politician, is caught with a young prostitute on tape and pressured to pay the bold jackasses who present him the video in person (not the usual anonymous snail mail version). The lead blackmailer, played by an exceedingly slappable John Glover (or Ricky Bobby’s daddy), who has made a career of playing hard-to-like characters, you just know are going to end up getting pointedly hero-stomped in the end of the show, and maybe in 86 this was still novelty enough, but I somehow doubt it. The destruction of a baddie, though brief and predictable is as tired but also pointedly successful as any of the essential seven Shakespearian plots.

The reason this film is lousy is that we don’t care. As much as I enjoyed Scheider in many of his fast, blue-collar, everyman in a tough situation roles, from The French Connection on, this piece of fluff just gives little in terms of the reasons for the business of his marriage (Anne Margaret still looking kitten with a whip-ish), and the lack of any depth with the doomed Cini (for Cynthia!) makes the plot seem dismissable. The film-makers, seeming to realize this accident, create a scenario where the baddies actually murder the poor kid mistress so that we have a real reason to hate the damned blackmailers. The murder was wholly unnecessary and gratuitous in that Golan Globus formula way, and leads us down a path of Scheider having to kick Glover’s ass. Oh I forgot, in case you were thinking the death of the mistress kinda solves the problem, the baddies also capture the politician wife (and Scheider still insists no cops!) and spend some time tormenting her as well!

And that ass kicking was bound to be lacking in enough spirit or retributive gravity. Added to the package was this idea that the bad guys were also pornographers. In 1986 this term itself, positioned with the then Ed Meese commission on Porn’s dreadful influence on our society, seemed a bad enough evil to include, but, trouble was, they couldn’t then really show us actual porn being made and instead just have Glover running around photographing the lovely titties of some hot ladies like a fourteen year old boy. It all seems laughably innocent until you have the s.o.b. shooting a 22 year old girl so he can try to extract more money from Scheider. Add to it a sweaty torture of Vanity by muscle Clarence Williams, and the fact that most interesting part of the film is watching the members of the blackmail pact turn on each other, and you’re kinda sliding off the couch for the remote. Oof, does all this sound like a fun movie?

It’s not. It’s thoroughly forgettable low-action-action pablum. Too bad! As this would be just about the last time Scheider gets a top-billed action star spot. Booo.

This is running free on Prime (USA). Utterly missable.

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