Thursday, 31 December 2015

Movie Review: The Grass Is Greener (1960)

A miserable adaptation of a dull play, The Grass Is Greener is a hopelessly dated mostly unfunny romantic comedy set in an English estate.

Victor, Earl of Rhyall (Cary Grant) and his wife Hilary (Deborah Kerr) have had to open their English countryside estate to tourist traffic in an attempt to make ends meet. Their only other source of income is a modest mushroom farming operation. One day American oilman millionaire Charles Delacro (Robert Mitchum) barges in on Hilary in the private section of the house, and after five minutes of banter they fall in love.

Hilary contrives a trip to London and spends a few days with Charles, enjoying a whirlwind affair. But Victor will not give up on his wife without a fight, and with the help of his former girlfriend and sharp-tongued society girl Hattie Durant (Jean Simmons) concocts a plan to invite Charles to the estate to defend the honour of his marriage.

It's difficult to imagine that The Grass Is Greener was ever current or funny, either on stage or on film circa 1960. As directed by Stanley Donen, this is a stilted, witless, stage-bound and endlessly talky comedy of British manners that would have appeared old in the 1940s. The four stars are utterly wasted, the script not finding any genuine passion or plausible pretexts to create neither appealing drama nor dreamy romance.

Grant, Kerr and Mitchum fire off their lines with little conviction while Simmons parades around in a succession of Dior outfits and provides some spark, but too little and too late. At least the set design, and most of the film is in one room, is understandably lavish and colourful, given the setting.

The script by Hugh Williams and Margaret Vyner (who wrote the play) tries to make some intelligent commentary about the institution of marriage, and throws in some remarks about the differences between British and American sensibilities. Very little of it works or rings true, as the endless scenes drag on in a remarkable display of more is less, not helped at all by lazy and static directing from Donen.

The Grass Is Greener just turns into a sickly brown all over.

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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Movie Review: The Hunt For Red October (1990)

A Cold War submarine thriller, The Hunt For Red October is a classy action movie centred on a Soviet commander gone rogue and the consequent high stakes cat-and-mouse game between the superpowers in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Soviet navy launches its latest submarine, a gigantic typhoon-class vessel named Red October capable of running in near total silence. At the helm of the maiden voyage is Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), the most respected Soviet naval commander, with Captain Vasily Borodin (Sam Neill) as his second in command. American CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) is alerted to the Red October's launch, and CIA Vice Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) and National Security Adviser Jeffrey Pelt (Richard Jordan) take a great interest when the entire Soviet fleet also sets sail, potentially in preparation for a war-like mission.

It is then apparent that Captain Ramius has gone rogue, and is charting his own course across the Atlantic to execute an authorized mission. Ryan is convinced that Ramius and his officers want to defect, and Pelt gives him three days to try and make contact with Red October and confirm its intention. The USS Dallas submarine commanded by Commander Bart Mancuso (Scott Glenn) is closest to Red October, and attempts to keep track of the Soviet sub. With both the Soviet and American fleets giving chase while guarding against each other, Ryan has to take risks and anticipate Ramius' next move to avoid a potential international catastrophe.

An adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel directed by John McTiernan, The Hunt For Red October is an effective underwater chase movie, filled with sleek and stealthy submarine machinery. McTiernan generates and maintains a pleasing level of tension by exploiting the tilt in global security that can be caused by a technical advantage, and provides the necessary pauses to explain the military and submarine jargon as necessary. Without any of it being profound, the film contains a good balance between character interaction, moments of sharp action, and underwater scenery (courtesy of cinematographer Jan de Bont) of subs manoeuvring around obstacles and hunting each other down.

A good half of the film takes place on-board the various submarines, and McTiernan avoids any traps of claustrophobia. The subs are portrayed as places of work, decision-making and action, and in which the trained men of both superpowers function efficiently and without complaint. But regardless of the film's fast pace, at 135 minutes The Hunt For Red October does sail on for longer than needed. This is a story that could have been told in two hours, and some of the padding is less than useless. Ryan, for example, witnesses a completely inconsequential crash on board an aircraft carrier that adds nothing to the film.

The plot is engaging without being too believable. The lure of a carefully planned defection is persuasive as Ramius' hidden agenda, and Sean Connery gives the role enough gravitas to propel the story forward. Nevertheless, there are quite a few holes in the logic of the script, and often the narrative drops down to a juvenile level where supposedly responsible adults play games, take risks, and trust hunches with ridiculously expensive machinery and nuclear weaponry at stake. The climax is particularly pretentious, with an on-board gunfight and a submarine torpedo duel proceeding simultaneously, finally registering as preposterous on the silly scale.

Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill and James Earl Jones provide strong support to Connery without ever fully rising above the fairly stock behaviour of tense military men. And in accordance with a super macho world, the film is completely devoid of any women characters of consequence.

Driven by near-viable technology and the deep-seated suspicions that fuelled a decades-long cold conflict, The Hunt For Red October is a worthwhile expedition.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Movie Review: Don't Look Now (1973)

A masterpiece of psychological suspense, Don't Look Now travels to the damaged recesses of two souls traumatized by a child's death. Nicolas Roeg's adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier short story is an intricately constructed visual gem, where the quick, abstract details and glances are all that matter.

In rural England, church restoration expert John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) and his wife Laura (Julie Christie) suffer a tragedy when their young daughter Christine, wearing a bright red overcoat, drowns in a stream while out playing. Some time later, John and Laura temporarily relocate to Venice where John is managing the reconstruction of an old church. They bump into Heather (Hilary Mason) and Wendy (Clelia Matania), talkative elderly sisters who are touring the city. The blind Heather claims to have the gift of second sight., and tells Laura that she can see Christine and that the child is happy.

Laura is excited and rejuvenated, and wants to hear more from Heather. John is happy that Laura is moving past her grief, but much more sceptical about Heather's gift and the premise of contact with the after-life. Meanwhile, Venice is experiencing a spate of murders, with dead bodies found in the canals. The Baxter's stay in Venice takes a dark turn when they receive disturbing news from England, Heather starts to warn John that his life may be in danger, and he starts to catch glimpses of a child-like figure in a bright red overcoat darting about Venice.

Don't Look Know is a monumental achievement, an outstanding intellectual thriller where every scene counts, each frame is composed with elaborate care, and the details at the edges of the screen are as important as the main focus, if not more so. The premise of parents grieving for a dead child, carrying dark clouds of guilt and anguish into their Venice trip, creates a chilling tableaux. Roeg builds upon it with hints of much worse to come, with Laura's damaged psyche eager to grasp at the visions of a blind woman, leaving John behind to immerse himself in the foreboding world of a dark church undergoing a restoration.

The cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond and editing courtesy of Graeme Clifford add immeasurably to the film's mood. Rarely has Venice appeared so gloomy, Roeg and Richmond finding dark alleys, narrow passages, congested, chaotic canals, nondescript doorways and cold, unwelcoming hallways for the Baxters to navigate. Rather than celebrating romance and beauty, bad things can and do happen here, and when the police start fishing dead bodies out of the canals, it is apparent that evil can and does creep into idyllic setting.

Clifford's editing is hypnotizing, with snippets of events from the past and future colliding in the present, and creating an unhinged reality where water and the colour red insist on serving as reminders of Christine's death at every turn. Roeg and Clifford collaborate on editing one of the most erotic sex scenes ever put on film, John and Laura celebrating life again in a brief moment of pure happiness. The passionate lovemaking is silently inter-cut with the couple getting dressed to prepare for a dinner outing, Roeg using the juxtaposition both to get past the censors and capture ardent intimacy within the ordinariness of married life.

Donald Sutherland delivers one of his best leading-man performances as a husband trying to tie his life back together again while accommodating the fragility of a marriage rocked by tragedy. His portrayal of John is filled with muted emotion and an imperceptibly creeping sense that the events triggered by Christine's death have not yet concluded. Julie Christie gets to provide the brighter light, allowing Laura to cheer up and smile at life once Heather assures her that Christine is happy. It's what a devastated mother wants to hear, and Christie provides the streaks of optimism that occasionally enliven the film.

Don't Look Now demands that everything be looked at. The agony of a child's loss resides in every corner of the heart, and the search for the tantalizing path to emotional recovery travels through the more sordid corners of a beautiful city.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Movie review: Labor Day (2013)

A romantic drama, Labor Day is the tender story of an unlikely love blossoming under emotional stress. Director Jason Reitman and stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin deliver a quiet, moving exploration of two damaged souls connecting in remarkable circumstances.

The film is set in a calm suburban New England town in 1987. Severely depressed since her husband left her, Adele Wheeler (Winslet) is raising her 13 year old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) on her own. At the start of the Labor Day long weekend, escaped and injured convict Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) forces his way into their house to hide for a night, intending to jump onto a train the following day.

But Frank is not a naturally violent man, and his surprisingly affectionate treatment of Adele and Henry touches a chord. She is desperate to reconnect with a man, Henry longs for a father figure, and with fewer trains running on the weekend, Frank ends up staying longer than expected. He makes himself useful around the house, and a family dynamic starts to evolve. But the police search for Frank is incessant, nosey neighbours start to notice that things are different at the Wheeler's place, and Adele may still find herself in peril for harbouring a fugitive.

Directed and written by Jason Reitman, Labor Day is a beautiful film, a journey into the mysteries of love where a connection can blossom in the unlikeliest contexts. Reitman fills the movie with delicate scenes of normalcy in an abnormal weekend, life progressing despite the confluence of one woman's depression with one man's desperation. As Frank settles in for what should be a short stay at Adele's house, he should not want to be there any longer than necessary and she should not want him to stay a moment longer than he wants to, and yet both feel the tug of the human heart drawing them together.

Simple as the main story is, Reitman also has secrets to reveal, in the form of the events that drove Adele into depression, and separately, the crime that landed Frank in prison for murder. One of these histories is primarily revealed in one heart-wrenching scene, while the other unfolds through enigmatic snippets of events that will only be assembled late in the film.

Meanwhile, Henry as an adult (portrayed by Tobey Maguire) narrates the film, and the young teenager becomes the third point in the triangle of affection, needing both a better functioning mother and a resourceful father figure. Henry's reaction to the quickly evolving adult emotions around him, including the insecurities that arise when his mother's attention suddenly reorients to Frank, add to the film's impact.

The performances from Winslet and Brolin are exceptional, allowing the drama to unfold with no dramatics. Instead they both portray less than perfect people struggling against a flawed present and weighing the risks that need to be embraced for a better future.

Labor Day finds an emblematic highlight in the unlikeliest of scenes, Frank making good use of over-ripe peaches and guiding Adele and Henry through the process of preparing a pie. What comes out of the oven is not just a perfect pie, but a perfect film.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Movie Review: Air America (1990)

A Vietnam War serio-comedy, Air America is a lightweight and episodic film about civilian pilots engaged in illicit CIA flights over Laos.

It's the late 1960s, and despite official protestations from President Nixon that there is no meaningful US involvement in Laos, on the ground there is a full scale secret CIA operation to drop supplies to friendly forces willing to fight the Vietcong. To maintain the cloak of deniability, a motley crew of civilian pilots are recruited and employed by the fictitious Air America. Charismatic Gene Ryack (Mel Gibson) is one of the pilots, and he is operating a gun-running side business for personal profit. Young pilot Billy Covington (Robert Downey, Jr.) soon joins him, after encountering licensing problems by flying his traffic helicopter too low over the LA freeways.

The Air America flights are also being used by corrupt local military commander General Soong (Burt Kwouk) for drug trafficking, the CIA in effect facilitating the illegal trade in narcotics. As Covington starts to realize the scale of the operation, the danger posed by anti-aircraft fire from undefined "unfriendlies", and the carefree, fatalistic attitude of the pilots, things are complicated by the arrival of a US Senator (Lane Smith) on a fact-finding mission. Meanwhile, a refugee camp run by Corinne Landreaux (Nancy Travis) is located next to an opium-producing poppy plant field, placing a large group of civilians in danger.

Air America is an underwritten, largely inconsequential film, leaning heavily on Gibson and Downey Jr. for star power, plus a soundtrack of late 1960s music. With no real plot, it is doubtful whether director Roger Spottiswoode ever really knew what kind of film he was making, other than holding on to some vague notion that it may be a good idea to meld the cynical comedy of Good Morning, Vietnam with the counter-culture irreverence of MASH.

The result in Air America is a sputtering film punctuated by visual highlights that barely connect to each other. Downey is dangled from a helicopter for a long ride that is maybe supposed to be hilarious, and Gibson and Downey are trapped in a helicopter that in turn is trapped high up in a tree, nose-down. They unbuckle their seat belts for a stunt-man descent that is maybe supposed to be thrilling. These are the sort of scenes that work well in a 90 second trailer, but in the context of a film searching for a purpose, they are obvious crowd pleasers papering over the almost total absence of substance.

The one scene that does work well has Covington crash landing a stricken large transport plane on a dusty airfield. Spottiswoode prolongs the inelegant crash into an endless, sardonic sequence, the plane lumbering to a slow halt thanks to lazy friction and countless obstacles that get in the way but never with any finality.

A really late, desperate attempt to create a moral dilemma for Ryack, with his guns and Corinne's refugees vying for attention, smacks of a tacked-on drama that lands with a dull thud.

Irrelevant and largely forgettable despite the star charisma, Air America falls many lengths short of a useful runway.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Movie Review: Manpower (1941)

A romantic triangle drama set in the rough and tumble world of electric power line crews, Manpower boasts a terrific cast and some gritty locations and cinematography. But the human conflicts at the centre of the film are often contrived and less than convincing.

In California, Hank McHenry (Edward G. Robinson) and Johnny Marshall (George Raft) are best friends on a power line installation and maintenance crew that includes fellow workers Jumbo (Alan Hale) and Omaha (Frank McHugh). Hank likes women but is hopelessly incompetent when it comes to romantically wooing them. When he suffers a serious leg injury and is no longer able to climb the towers, Hank is promoted to foreman.

Pop Duval is a popular member of Hank's crew, but dies in a accident involving iced power lines. Hank is immediately attracted to Pop's troubled daughter Faye (Marlene Dietrich). She has served time in prison for theft, and upon her release has defaulted to life as a trashy hostess at a sleazy clip joint. Johnny doesn't trust Faye's intentions, but Hank is undeterred and ignoring Johnny's advice, proposes marriage. Faye never professed to love Hank but anyway tries to make a go of their marriage, but an injury suffered by Johnny signals the start of trouble ahead.

A rather uneven mix of drama, comedy, romance and conflict, Manpower is good but leaves the impression that it could have been better. Certainly the trio of Robinson, Raft and Dietrich is potent, and the performers generate and maintain an admirable level of intensity and engagement. Director Raoul Walsh is less successful when it comes to the comic relief, with the continuous stream of humour supplied by the numerous sidekick characters sometimes threatening to take over the film.

Primarily this is a dramatic love triangle set in a unique context, and the background of the men as members of a power line maintenance crew provides an undercurrent of danger that is well-exploited by Walsh. Setting aside atrocious worker safety practices, there are some quite effective scenes portraying the men getting on with their work on the high towers in inclement weather conditions including severe rain storms, thick fog (near an airport with planes landing nearby), and grappling with iced wires.

Also good is the smoky, sordid atmosphere at the Midnight Club, the clip joint where Faye washes up after her stint behind bars. The club is filled with desperate women hoping for one last break in life but instead being taken advantage of by both the club's disreputable management and the scuzzy customers. If working on the power lines is dangerous for Hank, Johnny and their men, working at the Midnight Club is just as precarious for Faye and her friends.

The tension that emerges in the relationships between Hank, Faye and Johnny is adequate without properly resonating. Only Robinson as Hank has enough character material to play with, and his naive, generally pleasant but easily combustible personality rings true. George Raft as Johnny has less of an arc and hides behind a cogent if ultimately predictable wise-cracking stoic persona. Faye is almost too easy for Dietrich, as she gets the shortest of scenes to reveal some background but otherwise plays the jaundiced victim of fate with barely any effort. The cast also includes Eve Arden and Ward Bond in small roles.

The film is famous in Hollywood lore for a couple of incidental reasons. Apparently Raft and Robinson came to blows on the set. Some sources attribute the tension between the men to arguments about Dietrich, while others mention Raft resenting Robinson's late addition to the cast, which diminished Raft's profile. Manpower is also known as the film Raft elected to appear in rather than The Maltese Falcon, which proved to be a classic and Humphrey Bogart's biggest career break.

Regardless of the background stories, Manpower is a decent effort. It never fully lights up, but does occasionally sparkle.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Movie Review: Wall Street (1987)

A dynamic, glitzy drama set in the world of super-rich investors, Wall Street is both a celebration and condemnation of capitalism's worst excesses. Oliver Stone creates a dazzling story of wealth gone mad, a playground for egotistical men where profits rule, the stakes are routinely measured in millions, and the careers of ordinary mortals are cheaply bought and discarded.

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a young but ambitious stockbroker at a middling Manhattan investment firm, still making cold calls to try and build up a client base. His father Carl (Martin Sheen) is a humble and honest aircraft maintenance crew chief at Bluestar, a fledgling airline. Bud's persistence finally pays off when he lands the extremely wealthy and ruthless corporate investor Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) as a client. Gekko likes what he sees in Bud, and takes him under his wing, exposing him to the power of inside information, the art of taking over corporations and breaking them up for great gains, and a world where obscene amounts of short-term profits can be derived from high-stakes stock price manipulation.

Gekko: The most valuable commodity I know of is information.

Bud's education includes meeting Sir Larry Wildman (Terence Stamp), an even wealthier investors and one of Gekko's chief rivals in the global corporate take-over game. Buoyed by success and fueled by Gekko's money, Bud starts tapping his college friends, including lawyer Roger Barnes (James Spader), to seek insider tips on upcoming mergers, and to set up bogus trading accounts to hide his activities from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Now very rich, Bud's life is fully transformed. He buys a swanky apartment and starts a serious relationship with glamorous interior designer Darien Taylor (Daryl Hannah). But when one of Gekko's upcoming deals threatens to hit close to home, Bud has to finally decide who he really is.

Gekko: What's worth doing is worth doing for money.

Fresh from the success of 1986's Platoon, director Oliver Stone moves from the jungles of Vietnam to the equally treacherous and shadowy terrain occupied by the manipulators of the global finance system. Wall Street is high-paced, magnetic and seductively glossy. Tracing the arc of  protagonist Bud Fox, Stone steps behind the curtain and into the offices of the power brokers who actually determine the winners and losers on Wall Street. It is a place both difficult to resist and absolutely corrupt, free of quaint principles related to morality and humanity, and driven solely by greed and profit.

Stone succeeds in making the world of Gordon Gekko fabulously attractive. For ambitious young men like Bud Fox, it's not difficult to be sucked into the promise of a life filled with limousines, lavish restaurants, expensive suits, glamorous women, high-end real estate and millions in the bank. It's a castle in the sky floating on high-stakes gambling with the odds tilted in favour of the Gekko's who profit from widespread malfeasance, and Stone builds up the allure with plenty of pizazz.  It's not easy to make financial transaction look exciting, and Stone pulls it off with energetic camera work and in-your-face scenes capturing the frenzy of the trading floors and the adrenaline rush of deal making in real time.

Gekko, talking to Bud: Wake up, will ya, pal? If you're not inside, you're outside, okay? And I'm not talking a $400,000 a year working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being comfortable, I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player, or nothing. Now, you had what it took to get into my office; the real question is whether you got what it takes to stay.

Not all of the film works perfectly. There are a couple of scenes, one between Bud and his father Carl and another between Bud and Gekko, where exaggerated emotions and shouting replace intelligent discourse. And Bud's awakening to the damage that Gekko and his ilk can cause is treated simplistically and rather abruptly. But overall, the script (co-written by Stone and Stanley Weiser) triumphs thanks to a treasure trove of sharp exchanges and observations, mostly courtesy of Gekko, that serve to define a caustic perspective on not just the world of capitalism, but the human condition itself.

The character of Gordon Gekko is an enduring symbol of the decade of greed, and Michael Douglas won the Best Actor Academy Award for creating a believable, even sympathetic, merchant of money. Gekko creates wealth, no matter the consequences, and Douglas' cold-eyed portrayal allows the character to make sense in a world where the limits of capitalism are unconstrained. Bud Fox may be the sympathetic core of the film, but Gordon Gekko emerges as its true voice, an unrepentant genius exploiting the system and selling his vision to anyone wishing to share the dividends.

Gekko, addressing an audience of corporate shareholders: The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms: greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.

Charlie Sheen does enough to carry Bud's journey without ever transcending the role. Daryl Hannah does well as the prestigious lover who comes with the money, unapologetic in her pursuit of the life that millions can buy. In addition to James Spader, the deep supporting cast includes roles for Hal Holbrook as a old-fashioned investor who still looks for long-term company value, Sean Young as Gekko's wife, and John C. McGinley as Bud's animated colleague, left behind when Bud moves into the stratosphere of investing.

Gekko: It's a zero sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred – from one perception to another. Like magic. This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars. I could sell it today for six hundred. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest.

Wall Street invests in quality film making and vigorous, character-driven storytelling, and achieves an exhilarating return on investment.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Movie Review: An Innocent Man (1989)

A prison and revenge drama, An Innocent Man features some harrowing life-behind-bars scenes, but is otherwise clunky and poorly written.

In Long Beach, California, Jimmie Rainwood (Tom Selleck) is a respected aircraft maintenance crew chief, happily married to Kate (Laila Robins). Undercover narcotics detectives Mike Parnell (David Rasche) and Danny Scalise (Richard Young) are celebrated for their frequent drug busts, but in reality are corrupt officers not beyond planting evidence and profiting by skimming from the drugs they seize.

Acting on a muddled tip from a drug dealer, Mike and Danny mistakenly invade Jimmie's house, a bungled operation that ends with Jimmie shot and wounded. To cover up their blunder, the officers plant a gun and drugs in Jimmie's house. He is falsely charged and convicted for shooting at the officers and dealing in narcotics, and sent to prison for six years. Jimmie finds life behind bars tough to handle, and he is threatened by competing black and white supremacist gangs. He finally turns to long-term convict Virgil (F. Murray Abraham) for help. With Virgil's guidance Jimmie learns what it means to toughen up to survive. Once released on parole, he will have to decide how to seek revenge on the men who ruined his life.

About half of An Innocent Man is set in prison, and the film is at its best in portraying life in hell for a wrongly convicted man. Director Peter Yates gets into his stride, and creates for Jimmie the stickiest of dilemmas. He has to accept either humiliation or violence, choices that are equally abhorrent for a decent and well-respected middle class family man. The script by Larry Brothers creates a prison ecosystem where racial divides are alive and thriving, the inmates make and enforce jungle rules, the prison guards are next to useless, and men like Jimmie can choose a side, prove their brutality, or get badly hurt.

The relationship between Jimmie and Virgil is forged in captivity, and should have been the highlight of the film. But the limits of the script are exposed, and what could have been a friendship born out of hardship is glossed upon in a few mediocre scenes. The character of Virgil is rich with possibilities that remain unexplored, with F. Murray Abraham underutilized.

If the scenes in prison are at least interesting if not completely fulfilling, the film falls apart outside the walls of confinement. The opening act is listless and features one of the worst attempts at courtroom drama put to film. From a drug dealer testimony being accepted at face value to the planted gun not receiving any scrutiny, the case against Jimmie Rainwood would and should have been torn to shreds by any competent lawyer, but here there is a rush to convict that serves the plot but is simply ridiculous. Worse still is the final act, with the revenge theme kicking in and an ill-conceived and convoluted plot being hatched that ends with a wild shoot-out in a failed attempt to satisfy fans of mindless action.

Tom Selleck doesn't do much to prove that he had any big-screen potential, and pales in the few scenes next to Abraham. In the supporting cast David Rasche makes for an entertaining late 1980s villain, hamming it up as a charismatic but near-psychotic corrupt cop who believes his own invincibility hype.

While not a total loss, An Innocent Man is guilty of a piddling performance while on parole.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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