Kurt Russell plays Michael Anderson, a reporter who works for a Miami Newspaper. He's feeling burned out, sick of reporting the doom and gloom. His editor (Richard Masur) wants to keep him on, he's a great reporter, and reminds him that they don't create the doom and gloom, they just write about it. Just as he's about to call it quits, Michael gets a phone call from a killer that changes everything. He's not just going to be writing about the story any more, he IS the story as the killer uses him to publicise his work.
Directed by Phillip Borsos, The Mean Season isn't a bad film, by any means, but it's not a particularly exciting thriller. The fact that it's partially a thriller and partially a look at journalists and the morality of their working methods doesn't make up for the fact that the movie feels slightly lethargic in places. The sunshine of Florida doesn't really help either, especially when there's no emphasis on the muggy heat that would be driving people to distraction during "the mean season" (the title refers to the common weather pattern that occurs during the late summer months in Florida).
The script by Leon Piedmont, adapting the novel by John Katzenbach, has few moments that sizzle, but does have plenty of interesting observations and comments to make. It's just a shame, once again, that the more thought-provoking elements couldn't have been blended with one or two more interesting story strands.
Thankfully, the cast help keep the whole thing just above average. Kurt Russell is great as the tired journalist who gets a shot in the arm from the most unexpected source and Mariel Hemingway doesn't do a bad job as his girlfriend, supportive of him to an extent, but worried about the effect that the big story will have on him. Richard Masur is enjoyable as the editor trying to keep the momentum going at all times, Andy Garcia and Richard Bradford are two very different cops on the case and Joe Pantoliano, well, he doesn't get to do too much, but it's always good to have him on-screen anyway. Then, there's Richard Jordan, who is excellent for every minute of his screen-time.
I am often remiss when it comes to mentioning scores and soundtracks (sorry to all the music lovers out there) so the fact that I enjoyed the music from Lalo Schifrin enough to note it down here should tell you that there were some aural pleasures throughout the movie.
The Mean Season is a decent little movie, one you can easily pass away time with if it appears on TV, but despite being a potential mix of Body Heat, All The President's Men and Seven it ends up falling a fair bit short of their levels of greatness. Worth a watch? Yes. Worth repeat viewings? I don't think so.