Wednesday, January 16, 2008

10 to Midnight (1983)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Staring: Charles Bronson, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Back in town... with a vengeance!

Plot: A serial killer gets his kicks by knifing his victims while naked. A veteran cop, Leo Kessler (Bronson) believes that he has found the killer and plants fake evidence to obtain a conviction. When this "evidence" is discovered the killer is released, and plans his revenge by stalking Kessler's daughter...

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? It's Bronson. Of course.

Every Bronson film review from this day forth shall start with...

Bronson = Badass! He doesn't say much...he doesn't have to.

That pretty much sums up a lot of his characters. In his personal life he was a quiet man. He life was private and he didn't want much to do with Hollywood. It was a gig. After DEATH WISH in 1974 he could write his own ticket. He worked largely with directors he was close to and good friends with. Tom Gries, Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson. He worked with Thompson on 9 films and I'm stunned that, with as many Bronson films I've seen, I've only seen one of those 9 (this one).

OK, sure, Bronson played the same types of characters in a lot of his films from the early 70s through the 90s but he was really good at playing those types of characters. There's nothing wrong with that. Go with what you know. In 10 TO MIDNIGHT Bronson plays a veteran cop/detective much like he's done in the past. This time it's just a different assignment.

Bronson owns every scene he's in. Period. He doesn't say much but when he does, it's good.

I will debate anyone on this but I believe he's a much better actor than most people (and his films) give him credit for. There's one scene, as small as it is, that really caught me off-guard. Bronson is riding in his car with his partner to go see the parents of a recently murdered girl and break the news to them. Bronson reminices about the neighborhood they're driving through as it's been a long time since he's been there when his partner tells him the address they're going to. At that moment Bronson recalls knowing someone who used to live at that address which turns out to be an old friend of his. The sudden realization in that moment feels so real and it's one of those moments that made me sit up and say, "Nice!". It's a tiny moment, sure, but
it's incredibly effective.

And then there's the fun stuff that Bronson does so well. He's a hard case and when he knows he's right, he's an animal when defending it. He KNOWS that Warren Stacy (Gene Davis) is the killer so he plants some evidence in Stacy's apt. and comes back to arrest him and do a thorough search. But, as Stacy strips nude before each kill, he has no clothing with blood on it. Bronson has a great scene where he's interrogating Stacy...

BRONSON: Warren, do you recognize this? Ever see one of THESE before? What's it used for? What's a matter? Cat got your tongue? It's for JACKIN' OFF, isn't it?

Classic. Seeing that pocket pussy pump flopping around makes it even more laughable. And then there's other little things like when after Stacy's been released once it's known that Bronson planted evidence, and Bronson's lost his job. Bronson spend the rest of the picture determined to take Stacy down. Bronson pulls up next to Stacy at a traffic light and gives him a smile...

That look. Oh, man it's good. Before you know it the movie's over and you've had a great time. It's not Bronson's best but it's good and certainly worth watching.

Everyone around Bronson does a pretty good job except, really, for Davis. I got the feeling the only reason why he got the job is because he looks good naked. His acting is OK at best. Although it would have been nice to have had a better actor in the role to play against Bronson but when Bronson = Badass, does it really matter?

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