By Peter Killip.
I originally saw this many moons ago on BBC1 one night just after pub-kicking out-a-clock, I remember they were supposed to be showing Charles Bronson cracker “Mr Majestyk” instead but decided this would be more suitable ( I dunno, maybe melon farmers going postal was just too topical at the time?),as an 18 year old drunkard, I was more than a little disappointed, I mean – who doesn’t love themselves a bit of Chuck Bronson? But, like it’s grim namesake, it takes a while to get going but once it does, run for cover people.
Coming back from a torturous 8 year stint at a P.O.W. Camp, Major Charles Rane returns home and finds that life still hasn’t quite finished pissing on his Sausage & Chips, after being given a payout from his time in the camp and during a plenty grim home invasion ( Other than “Home Alone”, are there any happy-go-lucky home invasions?) loses his family, his money and his hand.
Understandably, he goes screwball mental, attaches a sharpened hook and goes all vigilante with an insanely young Tommy Lee Jones riding (sawn off)shotgun to find the murderers. It’s not as subtle as it could have been, penned by Paul Schrader – you’d be forgiven for expecting a bit more allegory to go along with the B-movie schlock and there are moments in there of Travis Bickle-like disillusionment but few and far In-between and arguably works better in sparse moments.
William Devane’s performance as the dead man walking seems at first, like it’s been lifted from a completely different movie, his mask only slipping in a couple of instances when asked about his experiences at the camp or when discovering his wife’s infidelity. It seems to take some it’s props from Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah and has unquestionably influenced Tarantino and Christopher McQuarrie along the years but that doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of seeing a good, well orchestrated brothel based shoot-out done proper. There’s more to sink your teeth into than I initially remember and is definitely a better shout than Melon farming Charles Bronson.
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