Czech director Ivan Passer's neglected 1981 classic Cutter's Way is a story of political intrigue, murder and tragedy. Jeff Bridge's Richard Bone witnesses the dumping of a dead (murdered) body and finds himself caught up in a web of suspicion and intrigue which leads inextricably to local business big-wig J.J.Cord. Bone enlists the help of his friend, disabled Vietnam veteran Alex Cutter (John Heard) in his search for the truth and justice.
Cutter's way captures US angst in the post-Vietnam and Watergate era perfectly, and, in the plot contrivance of the local 'untouchable' tycoon being pursued in the name of justice, and indeed of its pervading sense of corruption, is reminiscent of that Hollywood masterpiece of all masterpieces Chinatown. Jeff Bridges provides a solid performance as the ladies' man Bone, but without ever reaching the high-points he achieved in his career best turns in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Last Picture Show and The Fabulous Baker Boys. John Heard, on the other hand, is an absolute revelation here giving a career-best performance in his portrayal of the angry and, ultimately, tragic character of Cutter. Heard has been something of a lost talent and I can't remember seeing any other performances of note by him (maybe aside from his Jack Kerouac in Heartbeat and his minor role in the Sopranos). Also worthy of mention is Lisa Eichhorn as Cutter's long-suffering, alcoholic wife Mo, who is struggling to come to terms with her apparently meaningless existence.
Capped by a great Jack Nitzche score, this is certainly one of the best films of the 80s.
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