Top positive review
A tough, enjoyable thriller
on 30 January 2017
Cohen and Tate once again marks Eric Red out as a writer who can make the underbelly of America fascinating.
In The Hitcher, an ill-equipped teenager came up against a sadistic sociopath with a knack for cruelty and murder. Here, we're informed by the opening crawl that a young boy has witnessed the killing of a mob figure, and his family are now in protective custody.
Red gives us just long enough to soak up the heat shimmer of the plains and the barely supressed fear and frustration of his family before hell breaks loose, and Scheider and Baldwin show up as the Cohen and Tate of the title, seizing the boy. With just the opening 10 minutes out of the way, the rest becomes an exercise in tension and mind games as they try to make it by car back to a Texas mob stronghold many hours away...
Scheider is brutal but complicated as the wiser and more professional Cohen. Baldwin is erratic, cruel and emotional as the more nihilistic Tate. Initially his performance is a series of juvenile comments, but it develops into an emotional complexity that hints that there's much more driving him. This is an Eric Red film though - much like Walter Hill's 48 Hours, there may be an emotional cause to Tate's instability but this isn't the movie in which to explore it. This is about hard boiled, brittle and aggressive men making a living at a dangerous job, and the story always comes back to external threats (eg police) or internal conflicts and power struggles. The script is structurally well crafted and maintains a nervy, ongoing pace. Many sequences are very tense, and the characters deal with issues (such as a roadblock) in ways you're unlikely to be expecting.
The kid is a decent performer, and acts as the lynchpin for the plot. He also helps to influence events, but the movie works because of the strong performances of the leads.
The Blu-Ray transfer is good, bringing out an enjoyable level of detail with a little touch of cinematic grain. The sound is also very good.
An eventful mob/kidnap thriller with good character interplay and enough violence to keep the pulse racing. A good effort and a good Blu-Ray edition.