Friday, 30 January 2009
EXTREME PREJUDICE (1987)
Directed by: Walter Hill
Screenplay: Deric Washburn & Harry Kleiner
Starring: Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, William Forsythe, Michael Ironside, Rip Torn & Maria Conchito Alonso
Damn, they sure don’t make them like this anymore. Tough as nails and spitting grit, Extreme Prejudice is about men being men, bad dudes being bad and everyone sweating their souls out in the deep deserts of Texas and Mexico. Walter Hill is known for is gruff and tough thrillers (The Driver, 48 Hours, Red Heat) and Extreme Prejudice is no different. Nick Nolte is a no-nonsense rock hard Texas Ranger whose best friend, Powers Boothe, just happens to be the South’s number one drug kingpin. Determined to clean up his town, Nolte will stop at nothing even alienating his smoking hot girlfriend (Alonso) and challenging Boothe to a duel to the death. At the same time a crack team of former and presumed dead military commandos have shown up to take down the drug empire lead by the mysterious Michael Ironside. But what is their real intention? Well, one thing is for sure: all hell breaks loose.
Slick, sweaty and swift moving Extreme Prejudice is on the one hand the kind of great 80s action movie they don’t make anymore: violent, tough talking dialogue and lots of barnstorming action. On the other hand it’s also a gritty, hard boiled look at some very mean men going about their very mean business. Loyalties and friendships are tried and tested as those who are trying to do the right thing are tested continually by those who are trying to break the law. Nolte plays one of the toughest movie cops to grace the silver screen, a guy who will not back down from a fight and will stand by his word no matter what. He’s no one liner sprouting superhero, just a very hard bastard who has a very hard job to do. Likewise, Boothe is excellent as the thoroughly nasty villain who may have had principals to begin with but have long since evaporated under a sea of drugs, murder and corruptive power. Michael Ironside (Total Recall) gets one of his best roles as the almost robotic like military leader and there is entertaining support from the likes of William Forsythe (Out for Justice) and the all too brief on screen Rip Torn (Wonderboys).
While this is a great film (and make no bones about it: it is) a few factors haven’t dated so well. Some may find Forsythe’s hillbilly nut-job a little overbearing and irritating, though he does give it his all and the very sexy Maria Conchito Alonso (Predator 2) gets the thankless role of the 80s action throwaway female caught in the middle of all the flying bullets. In addition, some scenes and supposed hard talking dialogue may now seem dated and a little unintentionally humorous thanks to twenty years passing and hundreds of other action movies diluting the effect. But, having said all that, Extreme Prejudice is still corking entertainment and a great story about characters living on the edge and caught in spiralling out of control circumstances.
On top of this Hill stages some very impressive action scenes not least including two amazingly sustained gun battles. The first at what appears to be an abandoned gas station features Notle taking out an army of bad guys almost single handily as he uses cars as shields and takes down the bad guys with precision timing. The second being the extremely bloody squibtastic finale which has to be one of the most violent outside of a Peckinpah film and pretty much worth seeing the film for alone.
A great action flick that deserves to be rediscovered as it’s a worthy slice of mean hombre action entertainment.