Top critical review
You're Welcome, Dildo-Nose
on 24 October 2017
Back in the 80s, dumb macho potboilers were bread 'n butter for the action genre crowd. Even though the scripts were tedious and the budgets low, there was a certain naïveté to all the bullets and bombs going off and thankfully audiences were gifted with more than ex-WWE muscle men in the lead. Back then, we had a plethora of bona fide character actors doing the derring-do with one Charles Bronson still heading up the pack, even though nearing the twilight of his career - he still had enough juice in the tank to crank out a bevvy of actioners for his ever adoring crowd, which this is one.
In this 1986 thriller, Bronson essays the role of Jack Murphy (as in Murphy's Law... geddit? Erm), an embittered LA detective who loves nothing more than hitting the bars and living life in a darkened haze of booze and bad attitude. Just coming to terms that his ex-wife Jan (Angel Tompkins) has now become a stripper (don't leave just yet!), Murphy is on a personal and professional nosedive when he discovers that he's being framed for a series of murders, all bearing the same MO: They're all people connected to Murphy. When Jan is also murdered, Murphy is hold up in custody but not one to taking this sort of thing lying down - he escapes with handcuffed con McGee (Kathleen Wilhoite), now tied together and both hellbent on a mission to crack the case of whom is framing Jack, and inexplicably... why?
Sandwiched between the third and fourth 'Death Wish' movies for turd-extraordinaire's The Cannon Group, this silly actioner is a solid hoot from beginning to end. Thankfully lead Bronson is on fine form and seems genuinely invested in his character this time, ably supported by a creepy performance from lead villain Carrie Snodgress who ensures her monstrous serial killer is given the full icy bite it very much deserves - she's wonderful throughout and really elevates the movie. Kudos too for screenwriter Gail Morgan Hickman ('The Enforcer' and 'Death Wish 4') who ensures his script is both breezy and action packed (an impromptu mid-flight helicopter landing into a barn is a fun highlight), never allowing things such as logic or intelligence to get in the way. Sadly, producers Golan/Globus almost botch the craziness by an attempt to skew their ageing action star at a 'youff audience' with Bronson's co-star Kathleen Wilhoite - who inexplicably spurts out juvenile obscenities for no other reason, except as a thinly veiled ploy to appeal to a younger demographic... or more realistically, getting under the skin of 70% of the audience. Her character McGee is pretty obnoxious and never do you warm to her, which is a shame as all the good work put in by the actor are overrun by the production's desire to speak to a supposed wider audience. Thankfully, director J. Lee Thompson (in his sixth collaboration with Bronson) can helm these things in his sleep and ensures everything runs smoothly, right up to the generic finale where hero and villain square off. I won't ruin anything but I bet you already know who wins...
MGM/Fox's UK DVD release sports a fine transfer with vibrant audio, but no extra features. As a late in the game action vehicle for the Bronson, it works just fine: Its got your usual 'Charley-ism's' with him blowing away bad guys, talking in a monosyllabic one-line delivery whilst wearing a comfy sports jacket. Sure, its a step back from the delirious delight of a crazy 'Death Wish' sequel and for modern audiences may just come across as a sweary TV-movie, but for fans of the actor its akin to putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. Albeit with a preference for heavy artillery. Recommended.