Friday, 23 November 2007

Out on Bail

Out on Bail (1989)

Directed by: Gordon Hessler
Screenplay: Michael B. Sonye, Jason Booth, Tom Badal
Starring: Robert Ginty, Kathy Shower and Tom Badal

Out on Bail is a little known action thriller starring B-movie mainstay, Robert Ginty. He stars as drifter, John Dee (get it?), who drifts into the wrong small American town (actually South Africa, doubling not always convincingly for the States). While he’s dining at the local eatery, enjoying a cup of chilli, he unwittingly stops a stick up, killing the two robbers in the process. Receiving no sympathy from the law enforcement he is soon banged up by the lunatic sheriff (Tom Badal). Several beatings and one shifty lawyer later he is “out on bail” and forced to assassinate some local politician or else the sheriff and his cronies will come gunning for him. Finding escape in the arms of town beauty (Kathy Shower), a shotgun and an armoured hearse (no really!), Dee turns the tables on the corrupt townsfolk for the over-the-top, explosive finale.

For what should have been a simple film about a drifter taking revenge on those who done him wrong, Out on Bail is a strange flick that gets bogged down with it’s slow middle half and some bug-ass weird characters. Ginty, usually a reliable force in these kinds of action pictures, practically sleepwalks through the film, nary saying a word. His very awkward love scene with Shower (in a shower!) doesn’t help and what is up with her mute kid who always looks whacked out on some kind of drug? Speaking of weird characters, Tom Badal plays the bonkers sheriff too full tilt, so much so that his ranting and random outbursts just become tiring rather than threatening. Then there is the odd squeaky lawyer, the mad dancing stripper in the bar and those random motorcycle punks in the final chase. Which all add up to a whole lot of Eh?

After some decent action at the beginning, Out on Bail lumbers along in the mid section, taking forever to get to the point. Patience is rewarded with the final half hour which features the aforementioned armoured hearse in an extended chase which includes motorcycle stunts, explosions, a fight on the bonnet of the hearse (cool!) and the spectacular gate crashing of a funeral. The action is solid and overall the film is shot well. Entertaining in parts, Out on Bail is never wholly satisfying due to the wandering tone and wobbly acting. However, those who are fond of low rent action movies of this sort, that were cranked out in the eighties and nineties, may get a kick out of it.

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