Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Extreme Prejudice (1987)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Walter Hill makes movies so manly that if you were to melt them all down and form a shield then you would then have the one viable protection against any attack from Chuck Norris. The man knows how to put a bunch of great actors together and then heap on the violence with the eye of a world-famous dance choreographer. Just watch any one of his movies and try to deny it. Well, okay, most of his movies can be put into that category. Maybe not every single one.

Extreme Prejudice can certainly fall into that category. Crackerjack cast? Check. Great characters and a selection of great lines scattered throughout the script? Check. Violent set-pieces mixing some major bloodletting with moments of beautiful camerawork? Check.

The film, in the first act, feels like two completely different storylines. Nick Nolte plays Sheriff Jack Benteen, a man trying to keep drugs and drug-runners out of his local area. Unfortunately, the main drug baron is Cash Bailey (Powers Boothe), a man who used to be his best friend. Elsewhere, Mighty Michael Ironside leads a team of soldiers in a plan to rob a bank that stores most of Bailey's drug money. These two storylines soon intertwine, with the soldiers affording Benteen an opportunity to hit back, and hit back hard, at Bailey's operation.

As well as Nolte, Boothe and Ironside, Extreme Prejudice has room for Rip Torn, William Forsythe, Clancy Brown and Maria Conchita Alonso in its cast. While their names may not be as recognisable, the likes of Larry B. Scott and Dan Tullis Jr. also do a very good job, easily holding their own alongside some of the heavyweights onscreen.

The script by Harry Kleiner and Deric Washburn is based on a story from John Milius and Fred Rexer, which helps to further solidify those tough credentials, if anyone still had any doubt at this point.

Hill draws great performances from everyone here, with Nolte and Boothe in especially good form, and once again mixes the visceral and strikingly cinematic amongst a varied cast of characters who don't just feel as if they've been shoved into the movie to be shot at.

Fans of the director will have seen this one already, no doubt, but if you've somehow missed it until now (as I had) then do make it a priority. And anyone new to Hill's filmography, all I can say is that you have so many treats ahead of you. Extreme Prejudice is one of them, and as good a place to start as any.


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