Tuesday 19 November 2019

Movie Review: Love And Bullets (1979)

A bungled chase thriller, Love And Bullets wastes a good cast on a ridiculous plot and lacklustre execution.

Phoenix detective Charlie Congers (Charles Bronson) is coerced by the FBI into traveling to a remote Switzerland ski resort to extract mobster floozy Jackie Pruit (Jill Ireland) from the clutches of the goons guarding her. She is the long-term lover of crime boss Joe Bomposa (Rod Steiger), and the FBI agents believe she will testify against him.

Joe reluctantly orders Jackie killed, and cold-blooded assassins Vittorio Farroni (Henry Silva) and Huntz (Paul Koslo) team up to try and terminate both Jackie and Charlie. A chase across Switzerland ensues, with Charlie forced to improvise an escape to Geneva. Along the way, he and Jackie start to fall in love.

Most of Love And Bullets consists of Charlie and Jackie getting on and off trains going up and down mountains, or trundling in the snow, all in an attempt to avoid faceless killers. The husband and wife team of Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland are pre-equipped with a natural ease, but even they appear skeptical a romance can blossom between a craggy Phoenix cop and a mobster's vacuous moll.

Meanwhile the film around them is an unconvincing mess, lacking depth, characterization, and sophistication. Rod Steiger's Bomposa is a cartoon-level villain, and Henry Silva ghosts through the movie as the imagined personification of intimidating evil, because he never wears his expensive overcoat; he just places it over his shoulders.

Cast members Strother Martin, Bradford Dillman, Michael V. Gazzo and Val Avery get to stand around and do not much of anything as the body count mounts, including a massacre of innocent civilians at a train stop, and not a single Swiss authority figure bothers to show up and investigate.

Director Stuart Rosenberg (a replacement for originally intended director John Huston) ensures the travelogue aspects in picturesque Switzerland are well covered, but finds the blandest escapes to keep Charlie and Jackie alive for 100 minutes, including improvising a most implausible blowgun weapon. Then a rushed climax manages to undo most of the preceding action for the sake of a final large explosion. When nothing works, forget the love and the bullets; just make way for the bomb.

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