This film was written by Paul Schraeder, the same man who gave us the excellent script for my favorite movie, Taxi Driver, and would direct films like Hardcore. You can see in this film many of the themes that would pop up around Taxi Driver, from the protagonist who’s a disgruntled, insomniac Vietnam vet and his quest for vigilante justice, to the way he views his world around him as ugly and rotten. William DeVane is no Robert Deniro, but he’s still a pretty good actor and is able to make the character of Charlie as a very realistic Vietnam veteran. Many people might see this movie and think he’s being wooden and uncharismatic, but that’s the point. As the son of a Vietnam vet and grandson of a WWII vet, I can tell you that war kills emotions, and DeVane’s lack of display of them works perfect for his character. Tommy Lee Jones is also great in this film, even in this being one of his early roles. He’s also the quiet type, but he really comes alive during the ending’s vengeance sequence, as he smiles and giggles at the process of going into battle. I also have to give credit to the beautiful Linda Haynes, who is able to carry the role of the girl who loves Charlie very well. She’s really the emotional heart of the movie, considering how much macho stuff is going on. It’s too bad she retired in 1980 to become a legal secretary, she had a lot of talent and it’s on full display here.
Sadly, this film has ssome flaws that I have to address, mainly the character of Cliff (Lawrason Driscoll). He’s the cop who wants to marry Charlie’s old girl. Just by what he did, you don’t like the fucker one bit, and the fact that screen time is taken out to force us to watch this guy hunt down Charlie and then get shot down by the same people Charlie is trying to kill makes you wonder what the fucking point was with that subplot. Thankfully the rest of the film is damn near flawless. John Flynn, who is famous for doing great thrillers like The Outfit, does a great job and the end sequence, where our two leads go into vengeance mode with shotguns into a hotel, is fucking awesome. You REALLY want tos ee these guys get it. I can’t help but think again to Taxi Driver, which has a similar ending, and while I don’t consider this to be as good as Taxi Driver, it’s still pretty up there. Hell, even Quentin Tarantino agrees with me, he named one of his distribution companies after it. So check this movie out, it has everything a revenge thriller should have, and it’s a near-perfect film.