FBI agent Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier) is forced to travel through the forests of Canada in pursuit of a cunning homicidal maniac. En route, Stantin reluctantly teams up with tracker Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger), whose girlfriend (Kirstie Alley) has been taken hostage by the killer. The unlikely pair gradually forge a bond of mutual respect as they battle both to survive in the wilderness and catch up with their prey before it is too late.
is the polished chase thriller which marked Sidney Poitier's return to the big screen 11 years after A Piece of the Action
(1977). Poitier, already 61 but not looking a day over 45, is an FBI agent hunting a killer who takes mountain guide Tom Berenger's girlfriend hostage and heads into the wilds of Washington State. Inevitably Poitier and Berenger reluctantly join forces, going through the usual mismatched buddy arguments with commendably straight faces and lending a quality of acting which elevates the movie above its routine screenplay. The girlfriend meanwhile is Kirstie Alley in one of her first major feature roles, providing little more than eye candy and enduring her ordeal with hardly a beautifully flowing tress out of place.
Director Roger Spottiswoode maintains the suspense well and mounts the action set-pieces with a taut, lean style, though the film lacks the sharp edge of his Under Fire (1983) or the sheer scale of his Bond outing, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). One major asset is Michael Chapman's gorgeous mountains-and-rivers cinematography, actually filmed in British Columbia. Without the star cast and strong production values Deadly Pursuit could be any of a thousand straight-to-video action flicks, but as it stands is a superior formula adventure. The film was also released with the title Shoot to Kill.
On the DVD: Deadly Pursuit comes to disc with no extras bar numerous subtitle options and a choice of a Spanish dubbed version. The original Dolby SR soundtrack has been given a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix and is effectively atmospheric, clean and clear, if lacking the firepower of a more recent equivalent. The anamorphically enhanced picture is a little soft in places and somewhat grainy, but otherwise good. The film was presented theatrically at 2.35:1 and has been reformated for DVD at 1.78:1. As the movie was shot in Super-35, a format designed to allow widescreen theatrical films to be more easily recomposed for television and video, the result here is visually quite different to the cinema original, with some shots losing information to the sides while others gain additional material at the top and bottom of the frame. Mostly the compositions look fine, as if the film had been shot at 1.85:1, though the mountain landscapes inevitably lack the sheer visual sweep and majesty of the big screen original version.--Gary S Dalkin
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