Friday, May 20, 2011

Cross Country

(Paul Lynch, 1983)
This is an intelligent, fast-paced, gripping thriller, with able performers taking on an impressive array of quirky-to-shady characters. Lynch does the best work I've seen from him to date here: atmospheric, percussive and sharp as a knife. He even coaxes a halfway-likable performance out of Michael Ironside as the detective with the sick wife. Everyone has a secret in this tale of murder and escape, and the craftsmanship draws you in like quicksand. Unfortunately, it also leaves you to die there. Twist endings are tricky things: if the proper groundwork isn't laid, the audience will feel cheated. Which means that ultimately Lynch lets us down after all: strong scene for scene, he does nothing whatsoever to prepare us for the barrage of 180-degree turns in the closing minutes. And then he admits defeat outright with the desperately cheap wrap-up - you didn't think they were going to travel all the way to the Grand Canyon for nothing, did you? For a while there it looked like this movie was about, you know, human beings. Shakes head sadly.

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