Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Amateur

(Charles Jarrott, 1981)
A kind of jet-setting Death Wish for Dummies (!!!). Computer wonk's wife gets murdered by Commie terrorists, and so he must lurk behind the Iron Curtain to serve up some Savage Justice. Only the terrorists aren't really Commies - they're CIA employees! Sounds fraught with resonance and dramatic possibility, you're saying to yourself - now all it needs is John Savage in the lead and the guy who directed the Lost Horizon remake. Oh and Christopher Plummer flitting about the margins for no discernible reason except to show off his Werner Klemperer impersonation (and, oh yeah, to appease the CFDC). This subverts the Competency Paradox by the simple expedient of not being competent - nothing scenes stretched to the breaking point, inexcusable lapses in logic (why don't those 500 snipers just bag the guy after he shoots his hostage?), and big-idea set pieces - shootout in a chandelier warehouse? Luxury swimming pool explodes into tiki bar? - that oughta direct themselves, but not with Jarrott back there scratching his head. And the expose of the military-industrial complex would have been a lot more effective if the Lone Man Against The System weren't such a boring asshole.

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